Copper River Salmon Arrives From Alaska

by Megan Hill

Jun 3, 2016

Copper River Salmon at Pike Place Market, Seattle, Washington © Adeliepenguin | Dreamstime

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Each year, the tiny coastal town of Cordova, Alaska, welcomes the opening of the spring fishing season. The local river, the Copper River, is world-renowned for its salmon, which have a noticeably brighter red hue than other fish, and are said to be the best-tasting salmon in the world.


Each May, when the first fish arrive in Seattle on an Alaska Airlines flight, there’s a ceremonial salmon cook-off, with three top chefs competing to be the champ of Alaska Air Cargo’s annual Copper Chef Cook-Off. The recipes, including the winning dish, are available for home cooks to try.



Alaska’s Copper River is a special place. The fishers are often multi-generational fishing families who take seriously the state’s commitment to sourcing fish and other seafood sustainably. When the season first opens on the river, the boats are out on the water early in the morning, fishing until the evening in a marathon endeavor.


When the boats return, the families are waiting at the docks to welcome them home. The mayor of Cordova is present and there’s an air of celebration for the season’s first catch. Then, the fish are distributed to Anchorage and Seattle, where it’s flown around the world for diners to enjoy.




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