Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute
This piece is the first in a two-part series about Corby's recent trip to remote Alaskan salmon fisheries that few journalists ever visit.
Alaska brags about the way it manages its fishery. It invests in both protecting it and showing it off, as in the trip Marion Nestle and I went on a bit over a week ago. Paid-for (and fun) junket aside, the state has reason to boast. The state supplies half the country's wild-caught seafoodâthe only kind many of us want to eat. No Alaskan seafood has been listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, as Marion points out in her series of three excellent posts about the trip. In his new book, Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food ( an excerpt of which, on tuna, ran in last Sunday's New York Times Magazine ), Paul Greenberg says of the state's Department of Fish & Game, "When it comes to salmon, Alaska is a little like a wise old man sitting on a far northern perch overlooking the destruction that humanity has wrought farther south."
The group that invited us, the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute , is a public-private partnership that seeks to promote the state's seafood. The idea was for a couple of journalists and one star chef, Michael Cimarusti of the restaurant Providence , in Los Angeles, to get a close look at wild salmonâthe glamour fish, the one cooks and eaters like me wait all year for. (As I'm from Connecticut, my own internal clock is set to spring shad and summer bluefish.) The group started in Anchorage and went to a remote island in the Aleutian chainânot only because it produces excellent sockeye, one of the four main species of Pacific salmon, but because, unlike Sitka, Cordova, and other famous fishing towns, it's not a place most journalists, or tourists, ever go. And we were promised some king salmon, the kind most chefs, though not I, most prizeâI prefer the redder, richer-flavored though lower-fat, sockeye. The organizers made good on their promise: a group of fishermen and processors who had seldom talked to journalists and were thus unusually candid, and some great fish to watchâand, for Cimarustiâto catch and clean and cut, at very, very close range.