We eat a lot of fresh seafood during the months we cruise in SE Alaska. How fresh? So fresh that it can take under an hour to go from on-the-hook to on-the- grill. The flavor and texture of just-caught fish, crab and prawns are special, way beyond delicious. Access to such fresh seafood has spoiled us so much that we rarely order the restaurant or fishmarket product that’s available at home.
Fresh matters, so we catch only what we can eat and keep our catch very well refrigerated. Recently I spotted two fish hanging out in the open on a nearby seine boat. Really... hanging… tails tied up with twine and hanging from the boom. That boat (and many others) had moored across from us at the Warm Springs dock late at night after a two-day opening. We glanced at those two fish throughout the day while they hung there, drying in the sunshine for hour after hour, attracting flies and a few curious looks from passersby. What is that all about? Curiosity finally got to me and I asked the guys why they hung fish. One of the crew explained the large king salmon and smaller steelhead were bycatch from their haul of pink salmon and would be dinner that night. The seiner’s fridge was full, so bleeding and gutting would be sufficient to dry the fish and hold them for a day or so. Uh huh, an interesting, practical solution. It works for that crew, but no thanks. Not for me.
Fresh and refrigerated didn’t appear to matter to the cook and two crew members off a large chartered yacht when they came by late in the afternoon to barter for the fish. The seine boat captain drove a hard bargain, eventually trading his hanging fish for two bottles of red wine and a large pork roast! I wonder if the guests on the charter boat enjoyed their fresh salmon dinner?