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Know Your Fish
Albacore Tuna
Albacore tuna are some of the most abundant fish in the North Pacific. Highly migratory, these fish swim in massive schools that move north up the Pacific coast. They reach the waters of Oregon and Washington in midsummer, where they’re harvested by a fleet of small boat fishermen. These albacore are prized for their dense sweet meat that shines in a variety of preparations. Ours are all caught one by one by pole and line and frozen at low temperatures to ensure they are sashimi grade — perfect for your favorite poke, sushi, or sashimi. We love our albacore tuna seared rare and served over a bed of brown rice with sautéed greens and a teriyaki drizzle.
Season: July through October
Caught through a partnership with Seafood Producers Cooperative
Bairdi Crab
Bairdi, sometimes marketed under the names tanner, snow, or, in Canada, queen crab, is a prized crab harvested during Alaska’s cold winter months. Commercial fishermen harvest bairdi using pots in many different regions of Alaska but primarily in the Bering Sea and Southeast Alaska. Alaska carefully manages the harvest of bairdi by only allowing males over a certain size to be harvested outside of their reproductive season.

Bairdi meat is light, delicate, and sweet but has a richer, more complex flavor than the milder Dungeness. It’s packed full of nutrients and notably rich in vitamins B12 and D. Our bairdi are cooked to perfection soon after they’re harvested, so it’s important to just heat through to avoid overcooking. Simply steam from frozen for 4 to 6 minutes. Our favorite way to enjoy bairdi crab legs is to dip them in warm butter.
Season: January through March
Bairdi Crab
Bairdi, sometimes marketed under the names tanner, snow, or, in Canada, queen crab, is a prized crab harvested during Alaska’s cold winter months. Commercial fishermen harvest bairdi using pots in many different regions of Alaska but primarily in the Bering Sea and Southeast Alaska. Alaska carefully manages the harvest of bairdi by only allowing males over a certain size to be harvested outside of their reproductive season.

Bairdi meat is light, delicate, and sweet but has a richer, more complex flavor than the milder Dungeness. It’s packed full of nutrients and notably rich in vitamins B12 and D. Our bairdi are cooked to perfection soon after they’re harvested, so it’s important to just heat through to avoid overcooking. Simply steam from frozen for 4 to 6 minutes. Our favorite way to enjoy bairdi crab legs is to dip them in warm butter.
Season: January through March
Black Rockfish (Black Bass)
These rockfish are harvested primarily by a small-boat jig fleet in Kodiak that we have developed partnerships with to create higher value markets for this underutilized fish. Smaller amounts are caught in Southeast Alaska, where fishermen are learning the fine art of locating and catching them. For our members, these white fish fillets resemble a cross between snapper and branzini. The small delicate flakes and mild flesh make black rockfish perfect for baking, roasting, or sautéing. We love it baked with tomatoes, capers, and lemon or sautéed and nestled over angel hair pasta.
Season: Year-round
Caught by Fishing Vessels Taku Wind, April L, and Point Break
Coho Salmon
Coho salmon are the most versatile salmon species. They’re mild and easy to use in a host of different preparations and styles. In July, at the beginning of Southeast Alaska’s salmon season, 4- and 5-pound coho dominate the fishery: these smaller fish, with their smaller flakes and delicate texture, resemble a full-bodied trout almost as much as salmon. By August and September, several months of feeding in the rich waters of Southeast Alaska produce 8-, 10-, and even 15-pound fish. These late-season coho reflect many of the culinary qualities of king salmon, producing big, fat fillets that grill perfectly on a warm fall day and pair marvelously with sautéed autumn vegetables and an apple cider reduction. Coho is even better suited for baking or poaching. There’s nothing quite like a poached coho fillet with a caper or tomato vinaigrette to enhance and highlight this salmon’s natural beauty.
Season: July through September
Caught by Fishing Vessels El Tiburon, Loon, April L, Bella Dawn, Mary Carl, Sunfish, Amnicon, Lorelai Bell, Valle Lee, and Dryas
Coho Salmon
Coho salmon are the most versatile salmon species. They’re mild and easy to use in a host of different preparations and styles. In July, at the beginning of Southeast Alaska’s salmon season, 4- and 5-pound coho dominate the fishery: these smaller fish, with their smaller flakes and delicate texture, resemble a full-bodied trout almost as much as salmon. By August and September, several months of feeding in the rich waters of Southeast Alaska produce 8-, 10-, and even 15-pound fish. These late-season coho reflect many of the culinary qualities of king salmon, producing big, fat fillets that grill perfectly on a warm fall day and pair marvelously with sautéed autumn vegetables and an apple cider reduction. Coho is even better suited for baking or poaching. There’s nothing quite like a poached coho fillet with a caper or tomato vinaigrette to enhance and highlight this salmon’s natural beauty.
Season: July through September
Caught by Fishing Vessels El Tiburon, Loon, April L, Bella Dawn, Mary Carl, Sunfish, Amnicon, Lorelai Bell, Valle Lee, and Dryas
Dungeness Crab
Dungeness crab, or, simply, Dungy, is the great crab of the North Pacific. Though the crab takes its name from a small town on the coast of Washington, its ecological range extends from Southern California to the Aleutian Islands. Dungy love sandy flats and warm days on the beach. (OK, maybe just the former.) In Southeast Alaska, Dungy are pot-caught by an inshore fleet of small-scale fishermen. The season consists of a summer and a winter fishery. Compared to other crab, Dungy meat is light and flaky, accented by a subtle sweetness and a light brine that brightens the meat. It’s unmatched steamed and served with drawn butter or folded into a light pasta and sauce. The shells offer an unequaled beginning for a rich crab stock.
Season: July and August and November through January
Dusky Rockfish
The mild sweet flesh of dusky rockfish is perfect for converting those who think they don’t enjoy fish. One of the most sustainable species of Alaska’s rockfish, duskies are open-water swimmers and grow quickly. We love duskies because of their versatility: bake ‘em, fry ‘em, or saute ‘em. They are a welcome addition to seafood stews and are superb blackened as well.
Season: Nearly year-round
Caught by: Fishing Vessels Valle Lee, Ilona B, Wilma Mae
Dusky Rockfish
The mild sweet flesh of dusky rockfish is perfect for converting those who think they don’t enjoy fish. One of the most sustainable species of Alaska’s rockfish, duskies are open-water swimmers and grow quickly. We love duskies because of their versatility: bake ‘em, fry ‘em, or saute ‘em. They are a welcome addition to seafood stews and are superb blackened as well.
Season: Nearly year-round
Caught by: Fishing Vessels Valle Lee, Ilona B, Wilma Mae
Halibut
With dense fat flakes, halibut are the world’s most prized white fish. They're perfect for baking and sautéing. They’re nice on the grill, too. You also haven't had a fish fry until you’ve had a halibut fish fry, especially beer-battered with New Glarus Brewery’s Spotted Cow. Thanks to its proximity to the continental shelf, Sitka is one of the world’s great halibut ports. And unlike many other places in the North Pacific and North Atlantic, all of Sitka’s halibut are caught one by one on hook and line.
Season: March through November
Caught By Fishing Vessels Sunfish, Valle Lee, and Oceanaire
Keta Salmon
Keta salmon are among Southeast Alaska’s most abundant salmon species (alongside pink salmon). Until about a decade ago, they were harvested for a single reason: Ikura, their prized roe. Since then, fishermen have begun to target them for a growing number of fresh and frozen markets both domestic and abroad that find the fish’s firm, lean meat and subtle flavor delightful. Keta’s one of our favorites to prepare with spice rubs, sauces, and marinades. You haven’t had salmon until you’ve tasted Chef Ali’s keta salmon with espresso barbecue sauce.
Season: June through September
Caught by Fishing Vessels Mary Carl, April L, and Loon
Keta Salmon
Keta salmon are among Southeast Alaska’s most abundant salmon species (alongside pink salmon). Until about a decade ago, they were harvested for a single reason: Ikura, their prized roe. Since then, fishermen have begun to target them for a growing number of fresh and frozen markets both domestic and abroad that find the fish’s firm, lean meat and subtle flavor delightful. Keta’s one of our favorites to prepare with spice rubs, sauces, and marinades. You haven’t had salmon until you’ve tasted Chef Ali’s keta salmon with espresso barbecue sauce.
Season: June through September
Caught by Fishing Vessels Mary Carl, April L, and Loon
King Salmon
Wild Alaska king salmon are the gourmet’s salmon because of their large luscious flakes and high fat content — sometimes twice that of sockeye and coho. King salmon store this fat for their journey up North America's longest river systems. When you eat wild Alaska king, you're tasting the anticipation of this river journey in the fish's flesh. Like a well-marbled steak, this fat melts into the salmon, giving king salmon an unrivaled mouth feel. And remember, these are the good fats: the natural, marine-derived omega-3s that heart doctors celebrate. Because of this fat, king salmon is perfect for grilling and searing with just salt and pepper. King salmon needs little else.
Season: July and August
Caught by Fishing Vessels El Tiburon, Loon, April L, Bella Dawn, Mary Carl, Sunfish, Amnicon, Lorelai Bell, Valle Lee, and Dryas
Lingcod
Lingcod is neither ling nor cod. Discuss. Well, actually, it is a greenling, a voracious bottom-dwelling predator that’s a favorite of sport fishermen (and home cooks) in Southeast Alaska. As a food, we like to think of lingcod as Pacific cod’s more voluptuous relative, with semi-firm, lean white flesh that’s nearly as dense and meaty as halibut. Like halibut, lingcod is wonderful pan-seared, sautéed, or fried. For a decadent, mesmerizing preparation, poach this fish and serve over wilted spinach and boiled red potatoes.
Season: March through June
Caught by Fishing Vessels Valle Lee, Mary Carl, and Amnicon
Lingcod
Lingcod is neither ling nor cod. Discuss. Well, actually, it is a greenling, a voracious bottom-dwelling predator that’s a favorite of sport fishermen (and home cooks) in Southeast Alaska. As a food, we like to think of lingcod as Pacific cod’s more voluptuous relative, with semi-firm, lean white flesh that’s nearly as dense and meaty as halibut. Like halibut, lingcod is wonderful pan-seared, sautéed, or fried. For a decadent, mesmerizing preparation, poach this fish and serve over wilted spinach and boiled red potatoes.
Season: March through June
Caught by Fishing Vessels Valle Lee, Mary Carl, and Amnicon
Pacific Cod
Cod is a fish of lore and legend. The pursuit of it helped settle the Americas and the trade of it helped establish the global economy. As a food, its mild, briny white flesh makes it as versatile as any of Sitka’s fish. Cod supports a suite of stews and soups. Pan sautéed with olive oil and crusted with herbed panko, it can be a highlight of even the most elegant dinners. In between, it makes wonderful cakes and patties and pairs well with everything from spicy to sweet.
Season: Year-round
Quillback
Quillback is named for the distinctive spines running along its back. Once you brave filleting these small spiny fish, you are rewarded by a succulent white flesh. Quillback is wonderful seared or fried for fish tacos, but we think the true beauty of quillback comes in the form of a simple ceviche.
Season: Nearly year-round
Caught by: Fishing Vessels Valle Lee, Ilona B, Wilma Mae
Quillback
Quillback is named for the distinctive spines running along its back. Once you brave filleting these small spiny fish, you are rewarded by a succulent white flesh. Quillback is wonderful seared or fried for fish tacos, but we think the true beauty of quillback comes in the form of a simple ceviche.
Season: Nearly year-round
Caught by: Fishing Vessels Valle Lee, Ilona B, Wilma Mae
Sablefish (Black Cod)
Sablefish, also called black cod, is an oddity of the natural world. Most demersal, or bottom-dwelling, fish tend to be lean like halibut. But not sablefish. Sablefish has a higher fat content (and more omega-3s) than king salmon. The result is a fish that tastes like nothing else in the ocean. Until about a decade ago, almost all of Sitka's catch went to Japan, where sablefish is a prized delicacy. Increasingly, sablefish is found on the West Coast and Hawaii, but rarely, if ever, does it make its way to the Midwest. Sablefish’s high fat content and buttery flesh mean it’s excellent steamed, broiled, seared, or grilled. It pairs perfectly with soy, citrus, and chile, all of which cut the fish’s richness while enhancing its delicate texture. Like all Sitka sablefish, yours are caught by hook and line and by pots, often several thousand feet below the boat deck.
Season: March through November
Caught by Fishing Vessels Oceanaire and El Tiburon
Sockeye Salmon
Whereas the flavor of king and coho creep gently over the tongue, sockeye explodes on the palate. Its robust and bold profile holds up to spicy and savory sauces — for those who’ve never entertained the idea, curried or soy-marinated sockeye over brown rice is a true joy of Alaskan life. Sockeye salmon is equally good roasted and sautéed. Much of sockeye’s flavor comes from the salmon’s natural history. Unlike other salmon, sockeye spend the first few years of their lives living in Alaska’s lakes, eating low on the food chain. These culinary habits carry over into the ocean, where they eat nutritionally dense zooplankton and microscopic crustaceans. The density of their own food sources produce the bright, rich flesh that make sockeye stand out among the other premium species.
Season: June through August
Caught by our friends at Taku River Reds, with the Fishing Vessels Sunfish, Heather Anne, and Kirstin Anna
Sockeye Salmon
Whereas the flavor of king and coho creep gently over the tongue, sockeye explodes on the palate. Its robust and bold profile holds up to spicy and savory sauces — for those who’ve never entertained the idea, curried or soy-marinated sockeye over brown rice is a true joy of Alaskan life. Sockeye salmon is equally good roasted and sautéed. Much of sockeye’s flavor comes from the salmon’s natural history. Unlike other salmon, sockeye spend the first few years of their lives living in Alaska’s lakes, eating low on the food chain. These culinary habits carry over into the ocean, where they eat nutritionally dense zooplankton and microscopic crustaceans. The density of their own food sources produce the bright, rich flesh that make sockeye stand out among the other premium species.
Season: June through August
Caught by our friends at Taku River Reds, with the Fishing Vessels Sunfish, Heather Anne, and Kirstin Anna
Spot Shrimp
Spot shrimp are Southeast Alaska’s hidden gem. Not only one of the world’s most responsibly harvested shrimp — caught in pots by small-scale family fishermen with almost no bycatch — they’re also one of the world’s gastronomic treasures. Beneath their brittle shells, spot shrimp have firm, rich, sweet meat, more akin to cold-water lobster than the shrimp often found at your grocery store or seafood market. Spot shrimp make a delicious shrimp cocktail, the toothsome sweet meat setting off the zing of the horseradish. They toss well with angel hair pasta, wine, cream, and lemon zest. Rumors swirl in Sitka that, paired with halibut and king salmon to make a North Pacific version of bouillabaisse, leaves dinner party guests speechless.
Season: October
Caught by Fishing Vessel El Tiburon
Yelloweye
It’s hard to find a white fish that Alaskans love more than the yelloweye. Yes, many of us find yelloweye more tasty than halibut! Also called red snapper, yelloweye’s vibrant red skin and flaky white flesh is similar to the prized gulf snapper, but that’s being pretty generous to our friends down South. Alaskans know yelloweye for its firm flake and incredibly sweet meat. Its firm texture means it holds up in soups and chowders and makes an unrivaled beer-battered fish.
Season: Nearly year-round, though we fish ours in late winter.
Caught by: Fishing Vessels Valle Lee, Ilona B, Wilma Mae
Yelloweye
It’s hard to find a white fish that Alaskans love more than the yelloweye. Yes, many of us find yelloweye more tasty than halibut! Also called red snapper, yelloweye’s vibrant red skin and flaky white flesh is similar to the prized gulf snapper, but that’s being pretty generous to our friends down South. Alaskans know yelloweye for its firm flake and incredibly sweet meat. Its firm texture means it holds up in soups and chowders and makes an unrivaled beer-battered fish.
Season: Nearly year-round, though we fish ours in late winter.
Caught by: Fishing Vessels Valle Lee, Ilona B, Wilma Mae