Tickle the Ivories of Salmon

Ivory King Salmon
“Regular” salmon at left, Ivory at far right.

If you want to swim outside the box, befriend your local fish monger. My latest discovery from Eric at Pier 46 in Templeton was Ivory King Salmon. Yes … ivory. It’s pictured above, and although you’d never visually peg it as salmon unless you took a close look at the muscle definition, there’d be no doubt in a blind taste test.

The fish are remarkably similar, so don’t count on it to win over those who just plain don’t like salmon. The Ivory is a bit milder overall, but with a more unctuous taste.

As Eric explained, these wild fish from rivers in Canada and Alaska eat the same stuff as their salmon-colored kin, but genetic differences dictate that they turn out with white flesh. Basically, it’s the same thing that happens when people of different skin types go out in the sun. However, from outward appearances, both types of these King salmon look the same – you don’t know you’ve landed an Ivory until you get your filet knife flashing.

Specifically, the Ivories process the carotene pigment found in their food supply so it doesn’t remain in their systems, while “regular” salmon amass it in their flesh. (Eric added an fyi – this is what farmed salmon would look like if it wasn’t artificially colored, but that’s bait for a whole other article.) Arguably, the redder variety might be a better choice nutritionally in the long run, but the Ivory is certainly worth a taste every now and again. Besides, since they’re far rarer than the “regular” variety, Ivory Salmon are a prized and therefore pricier commodity.

In terms of sustainability, Ivory King Salmon are viewed the same as King (Chinook) Salmon – a “Best Choice” if wild caught off the shores of Alaska, and a “Good Choice” if caught off California, Oregon, Washington. Now that tickles me!

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