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The king of fish

  • Pan seared local Noyo Harbor salmon with roasted fennel, cherry tomatoes, fingering potatoes served with a balsamic vinaigrette with cucumber and mint at Wild Fish in Little River. (ERIK CASTRO/ FOR THE PD)

The California King salmon — Oncorhynchus tshawytscha — grows larger than any other salmon species in the world and comes with an extra-rich layer of healthy, omega-3 fatty acids.

“There's a lot of big fish out there this year,” said John McManus, executive director of the Golden Gate Salmon Association. “And the bigger the fish, the more omega-3 oil they have.”

That unctuous fat also makes the California King one of the easiest fish for novices to cook, because it creates a wider margin of error.

Wild Fish Restaurant

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“This year, because of the size and the good fat content, the salmon are far more forgiving,” McManus said. “Generally, it's easy to overcook them.”

Whether you barbecue the fish or saute it in a frying pan, the California King salmon can supply your family with all kinds of delicious fish dishes this summer.

At Wild Fish restaurant in Little River, owners Liz and Kelvin Jacobs always buy the whole fish, a trend that is becoming more popular among restaurant chefs.

“In Europe, the skin is considered the best part of the fish,” Liz Jacobs said. “It gives a nice marbling of flavor to the delicate fish. It's got the fat in it.”

Kelvin Jacobs, a native of London, suggested buying a whole salmon for a dinner party, cutting it into filets for dinner, then turning the rest of the fish into other tasty products.

“Use the bones and the head for stock,” he said. “Then you can cure some that's left over, so you've got your lox.”

You can also make a salmon paté out of the leftover bits of salmon by blending it with cream cheese or creme fraiche and garlic, Liz said.

The sweetness of the California King, also known as the Chinook, goes well with all kinds of sweet summer ingredients, from tomatoes and basil to baby fennel.

“It's got a distinctive flavor, and it's a bold flavor,” Liz said. “It's sweet and briny and rich and delicate.”

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