I’m back from Alaska and have a new batch of salmon ready to be distributed!
My name is Christopher Wang and I catch the salmon that you’re getting. I fish on board a boat called the Marion Ruth on which we catch the salmon and then cooperatively process them with a group of other boats. I got into fishing first as a job during college and then came back around to fishing and particularly Bristol Bay as a chef that was interested in sustainability and secure food systems.
Here’s a transcript of a talk I gave at Slowfood’s annual fish event called SlowFish. It tells this story and the story of a place. There’s also an NPR interview I did this summer where I talk about closing the loop between catching and putting salmon on people’s tables.
This season, the weather was crazy abundant but also we were saddled with having really bad weather. It made for an exhausting few weeks where we HAD to fish (because the salmon don’t wait!) but it took every ounce of focus to keep the fish coming on board, stay safe and fed and get a couple of hours of sleep here and there.
We stayed in Nushagak Region for the entire summer because it was a particularly abundant harvest there. But the same didn’t bode true for the most of the rest of Alaska. Even the vaunted Copper River Salmon run didn’t really come in in full force this year. This is a little bit troubling because they’re still not sure WHY? a few of the runs failed this year. So it’s hard to tell what to expect next year. What it means immediately, though, is that Bristol Bay salmon is truly valuable. That said, I’ve only bumped the price up to $18/lb this year but, be forewarned, if next year’s run is a bust we might go through a bit of a larger jump.
Another change this year is that I’m selling smoked salmon by the piece. It’s something I avoided because I didn’t feel like I could get uniformity of size but, right now, I have a big enough business where I can over different sizes for different groups. For the hubs, the pieces are 5.5 oz average and are $11.75 a piece.
As host to the largest wild salmon run in the world, it’s important that we as a community work to protect and preserve it as salmon has been an integral and important part of the ecosystem for eons. Over the last decade, we’ve been working hard to fight a proposed open pit mine which would be placed at the headwaters that feed into the two major river systems that feed Bristol Bay. I work with a group called Salmon State towards this end. You can check out their campaigns here.
There are many stories to tell but, for now, I’ll let the salmon speak for itself. Here’s a recipe that incorporates vegetables and herbs that are peaking around this time of year.
Thanks again and I look forward to sharing this year’s bounty with you.