Conservationists see pink lining to summer salmon season 0
Garrett Schack, executive chef at Victoria’s Vista 18 restaurant, serves up free pink salmon to hungry beachgoers. (KEVIN HILL/24 HOURS)
Poor sockeye returns are just one side of the story on the Fraser River this summer, according to the Pacific Salmon Foundation. The conservation non-profit threw its third Pink Salmon Festival at Kits Point this weekend, to celebrate the taste and plenty of a smaller, cheaper and lesser-known Pacific salmon species.
The family friendly event featured 3,000 pounds of pink salmon cooked different ways by high-profile chefs and served for free.
Pacific Salmon Foundation president Brian Riddell hopes the marketing push will help home chefs consider the humble pink salmon, some 10 million of which are expected to return to spawn in the Fraser this year even as sockeye runs continue to struggle.
“We really want people to understand there’s a very sustainable salmon resource right in their backyard,” Riddell said. “You won’t find better food value than buying a pink salmon. Put it in the oven or the barbecue and you’ll have wonderful food for your family.”
Garrett Schack is executive chef at Chateau Victoria's Vista 18 restaurant. He got into serving pinks as entrées in 2009. That was the year so few sockeye returned to the Fraser that a federal inquiry was launched to investigate the collapse. But that same year pink salmon were returning in record numbers, so Schack saw it as an opportunity to shape diners’ palates.
“Some people don’t think it tastes as good, it tends to be the last one people pick off a menu,” Schack said. “But it’s really versatile, it’s great for smoking, it takes brine really well, it makes great candy. We’re taking a lot of fish and putting them on plates, so if we can find something that’s going to be a little more bountiful, I think we should do it.”
Look for pink salmon at your local fishmonger. If you absolutely must have sockeye, be prepared to pay big bucks. The Salmon Shop on Granville Island has been importing the delicacy from Alaska, but a five-pound fish will cost you $65.