Columbia River king salmon (left, $27.50 per pound).
Copper River salmon (right, $38.99 per pound).
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It was a perfect storm: A gloomy opening to Copper River salmon season collided with my growing resentment toward purchasing anything more expensive than a gallon of gas.
Tacoma-area restaurants and markets report limited or zero supplies of the prized catch from Alaska. Some said Monday that they don't expect any until Wednesday.
I bought an 8-ounce Copper River king filet from Metropolitan Market in Tacoma on Monday. At $38.99 a pound, it wasn't exactly a bargain, but it was cheaper than what some South Sound fishmongers were charging: $47.69 at Northern Fish Co. on Ruston Way and $49.99 at Johnny's in Lakewood and Tacoma.
I broiled the fish for mere minutes and served it with caper-butter-white-wine sauce. How was it? Delicious, of course.
Copper River's ruby flesh glowed like Dorothy's slippers. When the first tine of my fork hit the fish, the filet didn't so much as flake apart as glide apart. The flavor and texture – like the oceans and the rivers churned into buttery flesh – made me proud to be atop the food chain.
But at today's prices, I think last night's supper might have been my one and only taste of Copper River salmon this season.
Some Ed's Diner regulars seem to feel the same way.
Said Squid: "I'll pay $40 for a liter of EVOO and $100 for a bottle of wine, but not $39 for a pound of salmon. Even a snob has his limits."
Said vingrotto: "I agree. It's good, but not THAT good. I'll be slumming it with plain old wild coho."
Said fuzzybear: "Having previously spent several years in the seafood industry (back in the late 80's but still...) I was never that impressed with Copper River salmon. It was spendy then ($10+/- lb.) but todays price is outrageous. I will take an Alaska (or even Washington or Oregon coast) troll caught king salmon at half the cost any day and spend my savings on Squid's $100 bottle of wine."
Said princessnancy: I ordered it a few years ago, it was good; but I didn't think it was better than the regular salmon that Anthony's serves.
Said goddesslunacy: "My palate is not so refined as to be able to distinguish a cheaper salmon from a Copper River, however my pocket book is. Some families can barely afford to buy meat for their dinner, so only the rich and indulgent will be feasting on these thousand dollar fishes."