User's Guide

What to Eat During the Wild-Salmon Shortage

Go with the flow, and forget Pacific wild salmon for now.
Go with the flow, and forget Pacific wild salmon for now. Photo: Getty Images

News on the wild-salmon front hasn’t been good: As we related in April, the Pacific coast’s salmon industry is in major peril, and there was even talk that the cost of wild Pacific salmon could reach as high as $40 a pound. But the last time we looked, there was still a lot of salmon being served in the city. So is there a salmon crisis? We asked Louis Rozzo of F. Rozzo and Sons — one of the city’s top seafood purveyors — how things stand in the salmon business.

So is there a shortage of wild Pacific salmon?
The government has closed the fishing off completely south of Washington, and in Washington it’s really limited. In Seattle, they can only catch 200 pounds of fish a day. For most fishermen, that’s not worthwhile. It won’t even pay for the gas.

Can you still get it here in New York?
We have it, but it’s expensive: I’m selling wild Alaskan king salmon for $13.75 a pound wholesale. I know people feel weird about eating something that is part of a crisis, but the government is really regulating salmon fishing very strictly now. So it’s not like you’re going to make salmon extinct. But it’s true, there’s been a tremendous drop-off in the salmon stocks, going back many years. And the price has gone up a lot.

What are the alternatives?
A lot of people are favoring organic, farm-raised Scottish salmon, which is affordable and has a nice flavor. And we get wild Atlantic salmon from the Bay of Fundy. There’s also Chilean salmon, but you can’t rely on what they tell you about what the fish are eating or how they’re kept, at least not as well. I trust the Canadian fish. The future is farmed coho salmon, which is redder and more flavorful, and the salmon of the future.

And if you just want to give salmon a rest?
Then the move is arctic char. It’s a wonderful fish, related to salmon. It’s beautiful, cuts really nice, with a fire-orange color and texture that just melts away. And the farmers are handling it really responsibly. I think you’re going to see that on more and more menus.

Earlier: Major Wild-Salmon Shortage on the Way

What to Eat During the Wild-Salmon Shortage