By Polly Campbell
The Cincinnati Enquirer
The salmon started running on the Copper River in Alaska Friday, when the river was opened for fishing for three hours. By Saturday night, Palomino, downtown, had the wild salmon on the table. It's the beginning of the wild salmon season, a favorite time of year for fish lovers. There will be wild Alaskan salmon on the menu at Palomino all spring and through the summer.
Most salmon served in restaurants is farm-raised. It's cheap, it's available and it's good. But it can't compare to the deep-red, flavorful wild salmon from the northern Pacific. These huge fish swim hundreds of miles through cold waters, packing on flavorful (and healthy) fat. The catches are controlled carefully by the Alaskan Department of Natural Resources, so this is one species of wild fish that is not endangered.
Palomino will serve Copper River salmon in various preparations, including a Cedar Plank Duet with Knight Island halibut, oven roasted Copper River King Salmon with sauteed chanterelles and rich pear butter and honey peppercorn Copper River King Salmon.
Because of the limited supply, wild salmon is more expensive than farm-variety, so these entrees are $24-$28.
If you want just a taste of the salmon, there are less expensive dishes, such as smoked salmon chowder, salmon cakes and a King Copper River Cobb salad.
Halibut from Alaska is also in season. At Palomino, halibut is served with a fresh berry salsa.
The Copper River harvest lasts about six weeks. Then other areas in the Northwest open as different groups of salmon return to their spawning grounds in various rivers. There are the Dangerous Cape, Bristol Bay and Yukon River catches to look forward to.
Palomino, 505 Vine St, downtown, 381-1300.
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