Washington's Wonderful Wild Chinook Dinner
On May 13, Slow Food Seattle, Ray's Boathouse, Washington Trollers Association and Makah Tribal Nation hosted a reception and dinner celebrating the first of the season's Washington troll caught Chinook salmon. The delicious and sustainable multi-course salmon dinner featured wine pairings carefully chosen by Kristen and James Michael of the Chinook Winery in Prosser, Washington. Chef Peter Birk complimented the meal with a seasonal selection of locally farmed, seasonal produce.
Chef Birk kicked off the evening with a warm welcome followed by introductory remarks from Slow Food Seattle's Co-Chair, Lucy Norris. The mission of Slow Food comes down to a very simple idea: food should be good, clean and fair. To bring this point home, guests enjoyed the evening learning and tasting how and why Washington troll caught Chinook is a fine example of good, clean and fair food.
Following the first course of grav lox, Slow Food Seattle board member and Sustainable Seafood Consultant, Amy Grondin led a discussion and Q&A with fishermen from the Makah Tribe and Washington Trollers Association. Fishing season for troll caught Chinook opened May 1st on the Washington coast. In addition to catching salmon, fishermen are also stewards of this finned resource. We learned how fishermen are working with scientists to assure that Washington has healthy populations of wild salmon for decades to come. From habitat restoration to participating in wild salmon management with the Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, sustainability is taken seriously by the fleet.
Physical and sensory characteristics revealed what the salmon ate and where the fish traveled through spawning. Having fed almost exclusively on krill, the roasted Chinook had a lighter flesh and nuttier taste, while the grilled Chinook, which ate mostly very small forage fish, was a deep red hue with rich, silky fattiness. There were other differences noted to where the fish was caught: originating from both Fraser and Columbia River tributaries.
At the end of the evening, Amy made an announcement that a deal had been negotiated with Seattle area Whole Foods Markets. For the first time, select local markets are now carrying Washington troll caught Chinook in their stores until the end of the 2009 season. We applaud Amy's tireless efforts to advocate for sustainable salmon habitats as well as the fishing and coastal communities who depend on fishing for livelihoods.
A Word about the Slow Food Ark of Taste
Washington Marbled Chinook Salmon was added to the Slow Food Ark of Taste in 2006. The Ark of Taste is an international program that seeks, first and foremost, to save an economic, social and cultural heritage of a diverse variety of animal breeds, seafood, fruit and vegetables, cured meats, cheeses, cereals, pastas, cakes and confectionery.
The mission of the Slow Food Ark of Taste is to preserve traditional tastes and to celebrate them, by introducing them to the Slow Food membership and then to the world.
All of the foods on the Ark of Taste are heritage products that have real economic viability and commercial potential for the communities that grow, produce or harvest them.
Originally published on May 26, 2009