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Fresh salmon bring oceanic delight

Pink salmon return in massive numbers to the delight of anglers



Fishing guide Clint Goyette casts his line into the cool waters of the Cheakamus River under a blue sky with a client at his side. This is what Clint does. And, when the regulations allow it, Goyette brings his catches home for sharing with his family.

These past few weeks the main prize south of Whistler has been pink salmon.

Pinks inundated local rivers and streams from the end of August to the first weeks of October. Recreational anglers were able to keep the pinks they caught over a two-week period and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans decided to let commercial fishing boats operators to dip their nets into the top of Howe Sound — that hasn't happened in decades.

Barbecues from Metro Vancouver to Pemberton were filling neighbourhoods with the aroma of Sea to Sky pink salmon while many freezers now contain filets of pink salmon and smoked meat sits in pantries for enjoyment this winter.

Usually in this space we turn to chefs for wisdom on the food we consume and creative ideas for turning the ordinary into something extraordinary on the plate.

This week, our in-stream expert shares his culinary thoughts.

Goyette enjoys battling fish on the end of his fishing line, and he's an expert at it, but he also enjoys eating his catch, so his taste buds are very familiar with the taste of salmon.

Goyette says pink isn't the most flavourful of salmon species, that honour goes to the sockeye. Howe Sound isn't sockeye habitat. Goyette has a name for the sockeye he sees. He jokingly calls them "lost guys" instead of sockeye.

Anderson Lake teemed with Fraser River Sockeye in August. The fish use Anderson Lake to spawn.

Sockeye is popular so it tends to be more expensive than the pink, Coho and chum salmon that primarily spawn in the Howe Sound watershed.

"Sockeye is quite flavourful whereas the pinks are less flavourful," he says.

"Basically there's less fat," says Goyette of the makeup of pinks, Coho and chum.

Goyette is a fan of smoking salmon. First Nations figured out long before any Europeans set eyes on Pacific salmon that smoking fish is a good way to make the meat last while also augmenting the flavour.

"We'll smoke chum versus cooking them on the grill," says Goyette of the species he describes as nearly tasteless.

Goyette likes to cook his salmon with curried mayonnaise or mustard mayonnaise spread on top of the filet. He also likes to flavour his fish with lemon and pepper along with butter or coconut oil.

"Usually I don't cook them for more than about 20 minutes," Goyette says.

Undercooking salmon isn't a big deal while overcooking is disastrous.

Pair the plated salmon with a glass of pinot noir or chardonnay and get set to experience the same peacefulness Goyette and his clients experience on the river bank on a sunny blue sky day.


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