Sockeye for Dinner

Yesterday afternoon as I was winding things down in the store for the evening, I received a call on my cell phone. The reception was a bit scratchy and broken up but I was able to make out that Dr. Mark Withrow and his 26 foot sport fishing vessel SeaJay would be at our dock in an hour with some fresh sockeye salmon. At the time of the call, Dr. Withrow was heading through Ouzinki Narrows at the North East tip of Kodiak Island. With the SeaJay humming along at about 24 knots, the trip would take him about an hour.

Dr. Mark Withrow

Dr. Withrow had spent the day picking his subsistence gill net on Afognak Island near an area called Litnik. The sockeye salmon caught were headed towards Afognak Lake, their lake of birth. Sockeye salmon are the most beautiful fish in the sea. They are bright and shiny with firm ruby-red flesh. They are the symbol of renewal and sustainability.

Dr. Withrow and his catch

Silver bright sockeye

Now unfortunately for everyone reading my blog, I can’t offer this fine first sockeye of the year up for sale. This was harvested for personal, subsistence use, not for commercial sale. One of the best things about living in Kodiak is the close proximity to our Island’s abundant natural resources.

Dr. Withrow was generous enough to offer me and my family some fresh sockeye. I could hardly contain my excitement as I raced home with a freshly caught, freshly filleted Kodiak Sockeye Salmon. The flesh of fresh sockeye salmon is like none other. The color and texture is the deepest and boldest crimson red you could imagine. It is hard to believe that something this vibrant and rich could occur naturally without any interference from man.

Abel fillets the first sockeye of the year

A perfect pair

By the time I got home, it was getting late, Eydis is teething and is not feeling well, Rachel is also under the weather, but I was determined to indulge in this rare amazing treat!! So with no bells or whistles to ring in the First Sockeye Salmon of 2009, I simply baked it with salt and pepper, a dash of lemon pepper seasoning and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. With a fussy baby in one arm, I added a pile of tater tots to a baking sheet and placed them next to the salmon in the oven. Hey no frills!! Well 20 minutes later, the whole family sat down and marveled over the delightful dinner. Even the fussy baby was pacified by the fresh salmon!! I have been eating frozen salmon all winter and absolutely loving it, but I forgot the incredible taste and texture of the first salmon of the year. We could almost taste the Pacific Ocean in each bite.

Rudy Red Flesh

Salmon and tots

Hopefully this got everyone’s mouths watering a bit. I will keep you up to date about the upcoming season opener.

Until next time, Enjoy!