Q: Where do you get your fish?
A: We run two boats (F/V Njord, piloted by Pete Knutson, and F/V Loki, piloted by Jonah Knutson) and direct market the catch from them. For the 2015 season, we are working directly with seven boats (including the Loki and Njord) to meet our nation-wide demand for high-quality wild salmon. All of the fishermen we work with have a strong personal relationship with our family and are paid a premium to handle their fish beyond the industry standard. They fish the same areas of Southeast Alaska and Puget Sound as we do, gillnetting for salmon and following our exacting handling and icing procedures. This includes bleeding, dressing and immersing the salmon in refrigerated seawater holds, and offloading directly to our trucks for processing and distribution.
Q: Do you freeze the fish on-board?
A: No. We dress the fish (clean the innards and blood line) immediately out of the water, and then the fish are chilled to 29 degrees in our refrigerated seawater holds (it’s not freezing because it’s salt water). The fish are then hand loaded and layer-iced in insulated totes and transported to Bellingham Cold Storage where they are flash-frozen.
Q: How do you get your fish from Alaska to Seattle?
A: The majority of fish we bring in on the Alaska Ferry system. Normally the boats fish in Alaska Sunday through Tuesday. After the boats are done fishing for the week, the fish are offloaded and layer iced in insulated totes, loaded into our two heavy duty box trucks and ferried 36 hours to Bellingham. Dylan receives them up and takes them to our custom processor to be unloaded, and either immediately flash-frozen to our specifications or taken to Seattle to be sold fresh.
We also airbox with Alaska Airlines in small quantities as needed.
During the Puget Sound season, we truck the fish ourselves from Fishermens Terminal in Ballard to Bellingham Cold Storage.
Q: What is the difference between Pink, Keta, Coho, Sockeye, and King?
A: Pinks are mild, delicate fish. They're convenient because they thaw and cook quickly, and work well for picky eaters. Keta (another name for Chum) salmon have a meaty texture and mild flavor, which makes them work well for marinating and seasoning. Sockeyes are smaller, and have a red, succulent flesh. Perfect for sashimi. Cohos are right in the middle of the salmon range - fairly oily and flavorful but not overpowering. Kings are very rich and oily, and can range anywhere from 5-6 pounds to well over 40 pounds.
Q: What kind of fishing do your boats do?
A: We gillnet. That means that we have a net (about ¼ mile long) that runs off of the end of the boat with a cork line on top (to hold it up), and a lead line on the bottom (to make it sink). The gillnet is stretched in between the two, about 20 feet deep. It has diamond shaped holes in it, and is designed to snare the fish by the head when they attempt to swim through it. We let our nets soak a relatively short amount of time, usually 30 to 45 minutes, so that we don’t have fish sitting in the nets for a long period of time. The fish are bled, cleaned and refrigerated immediately after being brought aboard.
Q: What is Loki?
A: Loki is the Norse god of mischief. He is a trickster and shapeshifter, similar to the Raven in Native American mythology. Pete’s original boat was named Loki, and now Jonah fishes it. The Njord, Pete’s new boat, is named for the Norse god who is associated with fishing and crop fertility.
Q: Where do you sell your fish?
A: We sell at the farmers markets in the Seattle area, and also through some co-ops and restaurants. If you can’t find out products in your area, you can order from our online store or let your local co-op or independent grocery store know that you’d like them to carry our products.
Q: Why should I buy your fish instead of the fish at the store?
A: We are a direct-marketing fish company. We run our own boats and sell our own catch. Our consistency is better and we handle our fish properly. The salmon you buy in grocery stores is a crapshoot - it could sit in an unrefrigerated fish hold for hours after being caught, or have been frozen for 2 years by the time you purchase it. Without traceability, you just don't know!
Q: Why is salmon so good for you?
A: Salmon contains Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s reduce heart disease, depression, and risk of Alzheimers. They are also a great source of protein. Salmon also contain the powerful antioxidant astaxanthin, which prevents certain types of cancers and contributes to the health of the eyes and the central nervous system.
Q: Does your fish contain mercury?
A: Salmon are relatively short-lived, so they don’t accumulate mercury the way that other, longer living species of fish do.
Q: How long do the products last?
A: Smoked salmon and lox: frozen - 1 year, thawed - 60 days, opened - 10 days
Pickled: 90 days from packing date
Frozen portions, fillets, whole fish: 18 months, thawed - 3 days
Jerky and cans: 5 years
Ikura: frozen - 1 year, thawed - 10 days
Q: Do you smoke your own salmon?
A: We handle the catching and selling of our fish, and contract the smoking out to a custom processor.
Q: Does your smoked salmon have additives or preservatives in it?
A: Our smoked salmon has a honey and salt brine, and some have black pepper and garlic seasoning added on top before smoking. None of our products contain artificial additives or preservatives.
Q: Do you sell salmon candy?
A: Yes! Our salmon candy is cut into strips with a brown sugar and salt brine. Yum!
Q: Why does your smoked salmon have to be refrigerated?
A: The shelf-stable smoked salmon that you find in stores either has preservatives added, is smoked to a very dry state, or is packed in a foil retort pouch, which is the same process as canning salmon. We prefer to keep our products moist, delicious, and free of nitrates and preservatives. We also have canned smoked salmon and jerky available for those needing shelf-stable options.
Q: What kind of smoked salmon should I buy?
A: The type of salmon that you should purchase depends mostly on how you plan to prepare it. If you’re planning to cube up your smoked salmon in a salad or pasta, a more cost-efficient species like Pink or Keta works well. If you want to serve your smoked salmon as an impressive appetizer, a more flavorful species like Coho or Sockeye would work better. Some people can’t tell the difference, and some have a strong preference for one species or another. Try them all and find your favorite!
Q: How long does the salmon jerky last?
A: The salmon jerky is shelf stable, but it will continue to dry out while you store it. We recommend eating it within a couple months, or storing it in your freezer if you plan to hold it for several months.
Q: Why is the jerky so dry?
A: The jerky is shelf-stable and has no artificial preservatives, so it has to be completely dried. It’s a great for hiking and camping, and many people like to keep it in their cars or offices for a quick high-protein snack.
Q: How long does the canned salmon last and what is the salt content?
A: The canned salmon is shelf stable and lasts for a minimum five years stored in a cool, dark pantry. The 3.5oz cans contain 711mg of salt; the 6oz cans contain 948mg of salt; and the 7.5oz cans contain 1422mg of salt.
Q: How do I cook/eat the canned salmon?
A: The canned salmon is incredibly versatile. Some people like to eat it straight out of the can. Others like to mix a can into pasta or a salad. You can mix it with some bread crumbs and seasonings and make salmon cakes, or use it for a seafood chowder. It also makes a great substitute for tuna in sandwiches.
Q: How long does a fresh fillet last?
A: The sooner you eat it, the better it will taste, but you can keep fresh salmon in your refrigerator for 3-4 days.
Q: How long does a flash-frozen fillet last?
A: Depends on what kind of freezer you have. If it’s a chest freezer, the fillets will last up to six months. In a regular freezer, they’ll last two months. Once you have thawed a frozen fillet, treat it as a fresh one and eat is as soon as possible.
Q: Is your salmon safe to eat raw?
A: All of our flash-frozen fillets are safe to use for sashimi, but fresh are not. The reason for this is that fresh wild salmon can pick up freshwater parasites, which are killed in the flash-freezing process. Salmon are sometimes considered safe for use in sushi because they spend a relatively small percentage of their lives in fresh water, but exercise caution when eating them raw!
Q: How long does it take to thaw a fillet?
A: The best way to thaw the fillets is overnight in the refrigerator. You can also effectively thaw them in the vacuum-seal in 1-2 hours in cold water, depending on the thickness of the cut.
Q: Should I remove the skin before cooking/eating?
A: You can, but you certainly don’t have to. Salmon scales are very small and won’t hurt you. Some people like to eat the skin once it gets nice and crispy on the grill or in the pan.
Q: What kind of fresh/frozen salmon should I buy?
A: For picky eaters and kids, milder fish like Pink are a good choice. If you’re planning on grilling for salmon lovers, savory fish like Sockeye and King would be your best bet. The milder fish do better with marinades and seasonings, so if you want to try out a new recipe, try the Pink or Keta. If you want the salmon to stand out with very little seasoning, Sockeye, King, and Coho are all great choices.
Q: What’s the deal with salmon patties?
A: The patties are just salmon and potato flour and no other ingredients. We recommend you season them with garlic salt, lemon juice, or Cajun seasoning, just like you would a fillet. They can be grilled, pan-fried or baked.
Q: What is ikura?
A: Ikura is salt-brined salmon eggs. As we clean the fish on board, we sort out the skeins (eggs sacs). After the opening, we rub the eggs out of the skein through a mesh screen into a bucket, and give them a quick salt water bath to brine and preserve them. The buckets are then transported to Bellingham where they are packed into jars and kilo tubs and flash-frozen. We harvest our ikura mainly from Pink and Keta salmon. Their most common use is in sushi, but people also like to eat them with cheese and bread or crackers.
Q: What do I do with a whole fish?
A: You can ask Dylan or one of the other farmers market workers how to fillet it, but you can also cook it whole. Stuff the belly of the fish with lemon, onion, garlic, butter and fresh herbs of your choice, wrap in foil, and grill or bake it.
Q: What is a Keta?
A: Keta is another name for chum salmon. There is a stigma attached to the name “Chum,” mostly due to people referring to bait as chum on the East Coast. Many people who have caught Keta salmon in rivers believe that they are mushy and pale as a species, but this is actually a characteristic of these fish once they have been in low-salinity water for a period of time. Keta that are ocean-run have firm, orange-hued flesh and are very suitable served as an entree.
Q: Can I take your salmon on the plane with me?
A:We recommend that you keep the smoked salmon cold at all times. If you are checking bags, a gel pack placed next the salmon will keep it cold for several hours. If you are only bringing carry-on baggage, a bag of frozen peas will pass through TSA and can substitute as a gel pack.
Q: Do you have any tuna?
A: We don't fish for tuna, but a great place to get it is from F/V St. Jude.
Q: Does your fish contain any known allergens like wheat or nuts?
A: None of our products contains these ingredients, however, our fish is processed in a facility that also processes soy (wheat) and nuts. Our smokehouse uses separate brining tanks for products containing soy to minimize cross-contamination.
Q: Why should I choose wild salmon over farmed salmon?
A: The farmed salmon industry has a number of serious problems. From an ecological standpoint, when farmed salmon escape into the wild, they contaminate and disrupt the life cycles of the wild stocks. Due to the open-net nature of salmon farm operations, uneaten food pellets and waste from the fish pollute the surrounding environment. From a human health standpoint, farmed salmon are fed chemicals to enhance its color, contain relatively high amounts of PCBs and PDBE’s (both known carcinogens), and have a higher ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 oils than found in wild salmon.
Q: How sustainable is your salmon?
A: Our Alaska fishery is internationally certified by the Marine Stewardship Council. Their website has great resources and info on sustainable fisheries. Our Puget Sound fishery is not certified, but it is a very healthy run of salmon that returns every year.
Q: Isn’t salmon from Puget Sound polluted?
A: The species of salmon that we fish for in Puget Sound is Keta. These fish spend only a small amount of time (2-4 weeks) in freshwater as fry before migrating out to the Pacific, where they spend the majority of their lives. They don’t spend a significant amount of time in Puget Sound.
Q: Are your fish wild?
A: All of our fish are wild.
Q: What is the life cycle of a salmon?
A: Salmon begins their lives in stream beds. After their eggs hatch, they mature in the streams for varying amounts of time before migrating to the Pacific Ocean to mature. They return to freshwater to spawn as mature adults. We fish for salmon when they are just coming off the ocean, but well before they are at the mouth of the river.