A Gift From the Yupik People – The “Not Your Everyday” Chum Salmon

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Photo courtesy of Fishpeople

In the lower Yukon River basin in western Alaska, the Yupik people have been living off the land for over 10,000 years. Some of the earliest inhabitants of North America have been hunting and fishing and enjoying a fish that is known as one of the lesser salmons, a fish that is usually at the bottom of the list of fat flavor and quality. The fish that the Yupik call Keta (also known as chum salmon, dog salmon, or silverbrites) are among a population that spawn in the Yukon and are a whole different fish than the rest of the chum salmon world.

Of the five wild Pacific salmon species that we offer, king, coho, sockeye, pink and chum, the lowly chum has always had a bad rap. Most populations of chums on the Pacific spawn in small streams and estuaries and don’t really need to fatten up very much to reach their spawning grounds. This means lower fat content than other species, not as much flavor, lower omega 3 levels and nutritional value.

The chums of the mighty Yukon can have a spawning run that can be over 2,000 miles (the Copper River is a 300 mile run). To survive this long a run these fish have to beef up to levels that give them higher omega 3 fat levels than most king salmon. They have a richness and flavor like no other. We don’t see Yukon chums every year. This is an extra special treat this season because our beloved Alaskan Copper River salmon this spring was a bust with just a couple of openings allowed and few fish taken.

The Keta of the Yukon are running. Plentiful and at a great price, this pure health food is truly not your every day chum.

Grilled Smoky Yukon Chum Salmon with Monahan’s Irish Whiskey Maple Glaze

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Monahan's Seafood

2 Responses to “A Gift From the Yupik People – The “Not Your Everyday” Chum Salmon

  • These kinds of articles are what I love most about The Friday Fish Report! Thanks Mike!

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