The season we’ve been waiting for is here – Copper River Salmon time! The first Alaska Airlines plane, their “Salmon Thirty Salmon” delivered a fresh load of the antioxidant-laden fish, king and sockeye, to Seattle today. At least five more Alaska flights are scheduled to bring in salmon on Tuesday from Cordova to Anchorage, Seattle and across the United States. According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the 2011 forecast for commercial Copper River sockeye salmon is 1.18 million fish. That is up from a catch of 628,000 sockeye in 2010 and 896,000 in 2009. There won’t be as many king salmon this year, but numbers have been going down since 2003, when when a record 49,000 kings were netted.
To celebrate the season, Alaska Airlines is hosting a “Copper Chef Cook-off” pitting last year’s winner, Anthony’s Restaurants Executive Chef Pat Donahue, against executive chefs from Elliott’s Oyster House and SkyCity at the Space Needle. The competition gives the chefs 30 minutes to prepare and serve the salmon to a panel of judges: Sprague, Seattle Mariners Hall of Famer Jay Buhner and “Deadliest Catch” deckhand Mike Fourtner. Alaska Air Cargo is sharing the recipes from the cook-off on their website, so you can try them this weekend: http://www.splash.alaskasworld.com. Have your own favorite recipe? Alaska Airlines invites you to Tweet your recipe for salmon with the hashtag #CRsalmon.