Herring celebrated in Seattle
June 16, 2016
This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch. Showcasing Alaska herring as a tasty, fine dining fish. More after this —
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There’s much more to herring than roe and bait. All next week, nearly 40 of Seattle’s finest restaurants and retailers will celebrate Northwest Herring Week as a way to re-introduce the tasty, health fish to the dining scene.
Bruce Schactler of Kodiak is Food Aid Director for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. He’s helping to coordinate the weeklong event as part of the Alaska Herring Development Project. Herring Week launched last year with eight restaurants participating; this go around, interest has more than quadrupled.
Schactler says 5,000 pounds of Alaska herring fillets are being donated by North Pacific Seafoods from the Togiak fishery
North Pacific was able to get a fillet machine up and working and were able to supply herring week with the amount of fillets we need. They’re all single fillets, average about 3 ounces, nice big fillets. We should have enough for all 30-40 restaurants to use and maybe even enough if some are interested in continuing past the promotional week.
Each year in Alaska more than 40,000 tons of herring are harvested. Nearly all of it is valued for the roe-bearing females, with most of the male fish getting ground up and dumped. Smaller amounts of Alaska herring are used as bait.
Having one of our major processors come up with a customer to supply herring in any other way than bait or roe – I think it’s maybe the first time ever herring has been filleted for food for a commercial market in the state of Alaska. I think it’s a big step forward.
Herring long ago disappeared from American menus, although the fish has a mild flavor, similar to trout, and is loaded with healthy omega-3s. Herring week will showcase recipes ranging from smoked, pickled, pates and fancy fillets.
I was shocked. I didn’t know what to expect – to walk into one of these restaurants and they set that thing down in front of you and it’s beautiful and by the time you’re done eating you’re saying I’ll have another.
A McDowell study showed that Norwegian fishermen fetch over $1.40 a pound for herring. In Alaska last year the average price of bait fish was 18 cents a pound and just six cents for roe herring. The study said if just Togiak and Kodiak expanded beyond those two products, the combined value of the fisheries would be $15 million. The Togiak fishery this year was valued at $1.5 million.
Schactler says he’s hopeful that by next year, Northwest Herring Week might expand along the Pacific Coast.
I can at least help set the table with this development program to where the opportunity is there is any of the Alaska businesses want to take advantage of it.
Northwest Herring Week runs from June 20 – 26. Learn more on Facebook and Twitter and find links at www.alaskafishradio.com
Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – who salutes and says thanks to the men and women fishing across Alaska for their hard work and dedication. (www.oceanbeauty.com) In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.