Wild Alaska Salmon Season

Hy-Vee Responsible Choice wild salmon, caught from Alaska’s Copper River, will be some of the very first salmon to arrive in stores when the fresh wild season opens this week. The first 24-hour opener is set to open on May 17.  This yearly event attracts media attention and draws foodies from around the globe. The celebration kicks off with the first fish arriving in Seattle aboard an Alaska Airlines Boeing jet, a plane that features a huge mural image of salmon along the entire length of the jet.

The consumer demand for this product has grown each year with foodies who shop at Hy-Vee eagerly waiting for the first salmon to arrive in their local store. The pure, pristine environment of the Copper River helps create an omega-3 powerhouse. Copper River salmon begin their journey 300 miles downstream at the mouth of the Copper River, then make the long trek up through fast currents and unspoiled glacial-fed waters to reach their spawning grounds. This trek requires the salmon to store extra energy in the form of fat. The one-of-a-kind flavor and texture generated from this fat makes any seafood lover’s mouth water. It is truly some of the highest prized salmon in the world.

The Copper River takes its name from the rich copper deposits found along its banks. This massive body of water has 13 major tributaries, is 1 mile wide and runs at 7 miles per hour. The Copper River is the 10th-largest river in the United States, and is home to some of the finest, well-managed salmon stocks in the world. Alaska’s successful management practices are considered a model of sustainability for the rest of the world. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game monitors fish populations at several points along the Copper River and counts salmon heading up the river to ensure that an adequate number migrate to spawning grounds to reproduce each year. Policies like this have helped Alaska maintain one of the world’s most abundant sources of delicious wild seafood for generations to come. This is why we proudly place our Hy-Vee Responsible Choice label on wild Alaska salmon.

Meet a Fisherman

Meet Captain Darin Gilman, one of the fishermen who catches Hy-Vee’s halibut, which is available in-store now. He fishes for Alaska Halibut, Copper River and Prince William Sound salmon, among other species. He is a year-round Alaska resident, born and raised in Cordova. He is a third-generation Alaska fisherman.

Photo credit: Copper River Prince William Sound Marketing Association

Pacific Halibut

Pacific halibut is often considered America’s favorite white fish. You can find halibut on restaurant menus and in fresh seafood cases across the country. Alaska Pacific halibut is a mild, delicate and sweet-tasting white fish and is great for grilling at home during the summer. Uncooked, the meat should be almost translucent — not dull, yellowish or dry. When cooked, the snowy-white meat loses its glossy appearance and flakes at the touch of a fork. As an added bonus, its versatility in the kitchen is almost limitless. The thick, meaty flesh holds up well to a number of cooking methods and sauces, and it’s an ideal item to skewer for a summer barbecue.

Hy-Vee is pleased to label Alaska Pacific halibut as a Responsible Choice seafood item. Today, the only legal fishing method for commercial Pacific halibut fishermen is longline gear, aimed at the typical market size for this year’s catch of 10- to 15-pound halibut, which is much smaller than the 500-pound giants these flatfish can sometimes become.

Hy-Vee got its first taste of fresh Pacific halibut the week of opening season on March 26. All of our fish from Alaska are flown via Fed-Ex® overnight from Alaska to the Des Moines International Airport. After going through our U.S. Department of Commerce Inspection process at Perishable Distributors of Iowa (PDI), Hy-Vee stores have the opportunity to receive fresh halibut that has been out of Alaska waters for only 48 hours. That is quite a feat, especially in the Midwest.

Hy-Vee’s halibut is offloaded in Alaska. Photo courtesy of Copper River Seafood.

In general, the Alaska Pacific halibut commercial fisheries, including Hy-Vee’s primary vendor, Copper River Seafoods, are selective in the fish they catch because of the size of the hook needed to harvest such a large fish. Using a large hook generally reduces bycatch of smaller fish. Fishermen use circle hooks to increase catch rates and to improve the survival of any undersized halibut caught and released during commercial fishing. To reduce bycatch of other ground fish, regulations prohibit commercial Pacific halibut fisheries in specific depths and areas off the West Coast.

Although the Alaska Pacific halibut commercial fishery industry has changed substantially over the years, the science-based management of the fisheries has remained constant, sustaining this industry for nearly 100 years. This is another testament to the Alaska fisheries being some the best-managed sustainable fishery industries in the world. Because of its well-managed fisheries and practices, Hy-Vee is proud to label Alaska Pacific halibut with our Responsible Choice logo of approval.

Video credit: Chad Walling-Alaska Fisherman

Eat Smart And Add Seafood To Your Cart

People feel good about seafood — they agree it’s good for their health, it’s a perfect choice when they want something special or they love how it tastes. In fact, Americans are eating more seafood as they discover its great taste and healthy benefits. In 2017, a third of consumers reported they increased their fish consumption at home in the past year. Follow this link to find out why.

To learn more, visit seafoodnutrition.org.

 

 

Seafood: “Coming Attractions”

Spring is a great time for seafood! March means that many favorite seafood items are right around the corner. There is a lot to look forward to!

February/March usually brings the peak of crawfish season in the Bayou, providing the best, most tasty crawfish of the year. March also brings us the beginning of the fresh Alaska Halibut season. Fresh Alaska halibut is one of the best fish you can eat all year long. Ask your Hy-Vee fishmonger when he or she expects to get the first fresh Alaska halibut of the season.

March will bring Bairdi crab, which has had a “boom or bust” history. Last year was a bust and the fishery was closed. This year, however, the fishery opened up in late 2017 and we are just now getting product into the stores. If you have never had Bairdi crab, I would encourage you to give it try. It is related to the snow crab, however it tends to be bigger and sweeter in flavor. In fact, many crab-lovers prefer the Bairdi crab to any other crab. You should see this item in-store now.

April brings us 100 percent Natural Wild Gulf Shrimp season, providing us with the best-tasting shrimp anywhere! May means that Wild Alaskan salmon season is just around the corner! It begins with the Copper River fishery opening and the rush of fresh wild Alaskan Sockeye and King salmon.

Spring is in the air and it can only mean that your local Hy-Vee fishmonger will have plenty of in-season seafood options for you to choose from. See you soon!

Dish On Fish: Seafood Information

Dish on Fish is an excellent seafood blog where you can explore new seafood recipes and learn relevant, relatable and easy-to-understand health and nutrition information about seafood. Hy-Vee is a partner of the National Fisheries Institute, which sponsors the blog and encourages Americans to eat seafood at least twice a week, as recommended by the US Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Seafood is a vital part of a healthy diet. Hy-Vee strives to provide customers with high-quality, Responsible Choice seafood and our Seafoodies blog provides detailed information and tips. We want to share Dish on Fish with you so you can find more resources, tips and recipes to help you enjoy seafood and reap its benefits.

From Dish on Fish: Four Elegant Date-Night Seafood Recipes

We all have some simple, go-to seafood meals we rely on, but special occasions are the perfect time to venture out of your cooking comfort zone and try something new! We’ve scoured the Internet for the most elegant seafood meals to serve your special someone. From shrimp and scallops to halibut, salmon and lobster, take your pick!

Looking for more simple seafood meals for two? Head over to last year’s post for further inspiration.

Garlic Orzo Tuscan Shrimp for Two – Zona CooksSriracha-Glazed Seared Scallops – Peas and CrayonsSeafood Fra Diavolo – Host the ToastPan-Seared Halibut with Kentucky Bourbon – Champagne Tastes

Responsible Choice Lobster Tails

When it comes to sourcing Responsible Choice spiny lobster tails, Hy-Vee looks to the mecca of the Caribbean – the Bahamas. The Bahamas are known for their breathtaking beaches and crystal clear waters, but in these waters lies a rich, environmentally responsible source of spiny lobsters. These creatures play a huge role in the economy of the Bahamas and they rely on a strict management process to maintain this resource for future generations to enjoy.

Unlike American lobsters, spiny lobsters have a spiny hard shell for protection and lack large front claws. These warm-water lobster tails are smooth and have a spotted, greenish shell. Their soft texture and delicate flavor make them a favorite among chefs and foodies around the world.

In the Bahamas’ spiny lobster fishery, “condominiums” – or “casitas” – are placed by fisherman on the sea floor. Spiny lobsters seek shelter beneath this protective enclosure. Over time these man-made structures have become a permanent habitat for marine life, including the spiny lobsters. Divers from skiff boats dive down and lift up these condos and harvest lobsters that have a carapace length of at least 3.25 inches. Hooks are used to pull the lobsters out from under the condo. The lobsters are then carried to the surface where they are immediately placed in ice holds on the skiff. Once aboard the skiff, the tails are removed and they’re delivered to the mother-ship. Once full, the ship heads back to the mainland where they are processed, tested, cleaned, graded, frozen and then packed into 10-pound cases for delivery to the United States.

Upon arrival in the U.S., Hy-Vee requires that the lobsters are U.S.D.C. inspected to ensure that they are of the best quality before selling them to our customers to enjoy.

If you’re still in need of a dinner that will “wow” your valentine, stop at your local Hy-Vee seafood counter and ask for these fresh and delicious tails from Bahamas lobsters, which are featured in this week’s ad. You can even share the lobster’s story with your sweetheart and tell him or her that you made a Responsible Choice for them.

Verlasso Salmon

At Hy-Vee, we work with excellent suppliers, including Verlasso. Verlasso offers a more consciously-farmed, premium salmon that meets our high standards of taste and quality.

Verlasso puts the health of its salmon first. The Verlasso crew raises their salmon in the beautiful, pristine waters of Patagonia, Chile. The water is free of pollutants, creating the perfect environment for fish.

The salmon also have lots of room to swim and to grow. Verlasso’s ocean pens are spacious, with fewer than four salmon, which surpasses other producer standards. The pens are widely spaced, and after each harvest period, Verlasso leaves them empty for a period of 3 to 6 months so the water can rejuvenate. The ocean waters are 60 to 80 meters deep, with a strong tidal flow for optimal salmon growth. Verlasso doesn’t use hormones and allows its fish to grow to harvest size over a period of two years.

The company’s salmon are raised and harvested entirely on site, where the company takes pride in being able to track every moment of their lives. Verlasso can trace its fish back seven generations. Once harvested, a gill tag is put on every fillet and whole fish so that customers can learn about the region the fish come from and learn more about the farm.

Verlasso salmon has a bright and delicate flavor. With slightly more fat content than wild salmon and a higher moisture content, the result is a buttery yet firm texture. This extra moisture also makes it delightful to cook. Verlasso’s levels of omega-3 are ideal for a heart-healthy diet. Stop in at your local Hy-Vee and talk with the seafood experts about the quality of Verlasso salmon and try some of this delicious fish!

The Ultimate Holiday Seafood Entertaining Guide

The holidays are upon us and there’s no better way to celebrate family and friends than with delicious seafood. It’s often a busy and hectic time, filled with lots of food, so it’s important to keep up your omega-3 intake by incorporating more seafood into your celebrations.

One way to do so: Start with seafood appetizers! Seafood is among the highest-quality proteins and offers many additional health benefits, such as reducing risk for heart disease, improving how you feel during pregnancy, and helping your child develop a healthy brain and eyes.

We’ve rounded up our top three seafood appetizer recipes to help you kick-start your holiday entertaining. Dig in!

Old Bay Shrimp Stacks [developed by Cara Harbstreet of Street Smart Nutrition for SNP’s Start with Seafood Recipe Contest]

 

 

Smoked Salmon Avocado Flatbread [developed by Julie Harrington of RDelicious Kitchen for SNP’s Start with Seafood Recipe Contest]

 

 

Smoked Trout Brandade [developed by Linda Schneider of Wild Greens & Sardines for SNP’s Start with Seafood Recipe Contest]

 

 

For more appetizer ideas, visit Seafood Nutrition Partnership’s blog.