Confessions of a Wild Salmon Snob-- I Love Canned Pink Salmon

I am a very privileged seafood consumer. Not only do I live at the entry point of seafood coming from Alaska to the lower 48, but my sons are commercial fishermen, and our family has deep ties to the fishing community. If, for instance, I get a hankering for some local Dungeness crab, I can likely l find someone to throw one my way.

Queen of Fresh Fish

I am very sensitive to any fish that is not fresh or very freshly frozen.

My life has given me no claim to snobbery, but in the area of fresh fish, I may well as be the Queen herself.

This plate hangs on my kitchen wall as a warning to any less-than-fresh-fish that dares enter my kitchen.

As I have access to some of the best fish on the planet, and really an endless supply of canned Alaska salmon, I will choose a can of the lowly pink salmon over sockeye salmon any day. As I explain on my website (, the historic and overwhelming preference for sockeye salmon may have its roots in the way that salmon were once upon a time caught and processed, not because of the inherent superiority of sockeye salmon over pink salmon.

Pink salmon were caught in much greater abundance, and those poor pink salmon at the bottom of a non-refrigerated fish hold, after the end of a very long 20 hour day, were a very sad and gelatinous shadow of its once former self—a self that had navigated thousands of miles of the Pacific Ocean in the course of less than two years to find its way back to its natal stream.

The sockeye, caught in much less abundance, did not often suffer the literal pressure of 75,000 pounds laying over it before canning, and the result was often a much better outcome.  

So, a prejudice, based on then true, but now untrue circumstances, evolved, and most people will say they prefer sockeye salmon, often paying a great deal more for that can of sockeye.

Over the last three decades, things have changed greatly in the Alaska fishing fleet and the vast majority of boats, feature refrigerated circulating seawater holds. The fish that come out of that fish hold look just as fresh as they did when they went in. This has vastly improved the quality of all canned salmon, but it is the pink salmon that has really improved.

Fishing boats of old
Fishing boat of old .....         versus...
Even women run fishing boats today, and are very competitive.

Canned pink salmon is delicious, and I think it responds better to canning than sockeye salmon. We trademarked the term the Smart Al-TUNA-tive because though a good tuna sandwich is hard to beat, a canned pink salmon is even better. It is light tasting and has no slight metallic after taste that I associate with even the highest grade canned tuna.

Canned pink salmon is versatile. A pink salmon cake stands up to frying pan and a little hot oil better than any pork chop, while canned pink salmon, tossed into light summer salad, fits in perfectly at the Queen’s tea.

Ms. Linnea Lotscher of Homer Alaska, enjoying her pink salmon cake...Yum!

Lastly, Alaska pink salmon is an abundant food of the USA. From the catching to the canning, to the selling, the Alaska salmon resource is revered by everyone involved in this great industry.

It is also an industry characterized by small boat family fishing operations. Small boat family fishing operations, like family farms, defend the larger resource like no other..but that is for another blog post.

Stay tuned for some fire and brimstone on that topic!

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