There's a lot to love in Washington, from wild mushrooms to vast orchards to the beautiful Pacific coastline and its wealth of seafood. Fresh, local seafood is a healthy and sustainable option for your dinner plate, and these are five of your best options.
By almost any standard, sockeye salmon has to be counted as one of the tastiest things that swims. Its red flesh is firm, deeply flavorful and rich in desirable omega-3 fatty acids. From the culinary perspective, that fatty richness makes sockeye a great option for grilling, broiling and other high-heat cooking methods. The season for local, fresh-caught sockeye runs only until mid-August, so get it while it's available.
If sockeye and king salmon represent bold extravagance, coho is all about elegance and restraint. Its color is muted, its flavor subtle and refined and its fat content notably lower. This is the salmon to serve hot with elegant sauces or cold with a pungent aioli, where the fattiness of king or sockeye would be entirely too much. Coho's lower fat content means it can dry out under high heat, so it's better when prepared by gentle methods such as steaming, poaching or cooking en papillote.
Most varieties of white fish are more or less interchangeable in recipes, but that's not the case with halibut. These large, bottom-dwelling flatfish are a chef's delight, with firm, moist flesh and a delicate but memorable flavor. Substituting halibut for lesser species is a quick way to upgrade any recipe, but it's best in dishes that focus on its own strengths. Take advantage of its firmness by grilling or pan-searing it, or play to its subtle flavor by steaming or poaching it. Halibut can do it all.
Rockfish lack the firm flesh of salmon or halibut, coming to the plate with a flaky texture and a hint of sweetness. You'll sometimes find them sold as rock cod or Pacific snapper, depending on your location, but they're all the same handful of closely related species. If you buy rockfish as boneless fillets, it's a great choice for pan-frying or fish tacos. You'll also see it sold whole at many markets, and it’s especially tasty when grilled or roasted until the skin is crisp and the flesh is cooked and flaky along the spine.
5. King Salmon
The king salmon is aptly named. It's the bigger, richer and arguably tastiest of all Pacific salmon species. It's the finned equivalent of a rib-eye steak or tender slow-cooked ribs; a rich and fatty treat that's simply made for summertime and grilling season. Grill or broil it, with or without its skin, until the deeply red flesh is just barely translucent and the skin is crisp. Like a good rib-eye, king salmon is a premium product and commands a premium price, but it's well worth a culinary splurge!
Always buy the freshest possible seafood from trustworthy vendors. Fillets and portions should have a light, clean scent and not be at all "fishy-smelling." Whole fish should have clear, still-rounded eyes; bright red gills and flesh that springs back when you press it with a fingertip. Keep it cold on the way home – buy it last and keep it on ice or in a cooler – and refrigerate or cook it immediately. Fresh fish is best within the first day or two. Cool and refrigerate leftovers, and eat them within two to three days.