It’s been months since I was introduced to Skuna Bay’s Vancouver Island craft raised salmon but I felt the need to process the company’s noble aspirations and have a second go of tasting the artfully crafted fish at one of the restaurants offering their pristine salmon before writing about it. Back in December there were several fine restaurants featuring Skuna Bay salmon: Five Crowns (where I chose to dine), Napa Rose, and Drago Centro, to name a few.
Skuna Bay’s website includes a tab for “Chefs” featuring chefs who “visit our farms in Nootka Sound so that they can see for themselves the amazing natural waters and the passion, experience and focus that our craftsmen bring to their mission”. Pictured with bios are such renowned chefs as Ian Gresik of Drago Centro and Micah Wexler of Mezze in L. A. I finally fulfilled my desire to taste more of Skuna Bay’s salmon when I returned to Five Crowns to savor Chef Ryan Wilson’s fall/winter salmon creations. Chef Wilson is cultivating a new following of diners dedicated to seasonal fare and artisanal sourcing while continuing to please loyal patrons seeking their famous prime rib. Being one of the first restaurants in Orange County to source Skuna Bay’s salmon is another example of his commitment to craft.
We started with the house-cured Salmon Gravlax with shaved fennel and blood orange: thin slices of tender salmon with a perfect balance of salty and sweet with piquant mustard and coriander, we detected a unique flavor component we couldn’t quite pinpoint and experienced an ah-ha moment when he told us the gravlax is finished with a juniper gin glaze. Sublime!
I remained true to my mission and ordered the Skuna Bay Salmon with mushroom bread pudding and broccoli rabe. I adore salmon in all its forms, but if only everyone’s first taste of salmon were as fresh, firm, mild and tender as Skuna Bay’s, we wouldn’t have any difficulty persuading folks to add salmon as a source of omega-3 fatty acids to their diets. In the hands of Wilson and sous chef Bryon Freeze, each bite of the sweet pink flesh practically melted in your mouth and the comforting savory bread pudding was a pleasant change from the usual starch – delightfully true to the Five Crowns heritage as well.
My dining companion preferred to venture into creamy risotto and was equally impressed with the Winter Mushroom Risotto with crispy leeks and parmigiano reggiano.
Cheese lovers both of us, we had no problem agreeing on the Cheese Board over their signature Dark Chocolate Soufflé for dessert. While most often you think of wine pairings with cheese, for some reason this one cried out for beer and we enjoyed a craft beer flight from adjoining, award-winning SideDoor to close the evening. The young chef duo dropped in on us to see if they could answer any questions and shared their excitement about Skuna Bay – the product and the company. We were struck by their enthusiasm and hope that they’ll be able to carve out the time to visit Skuna Bay and be featured on the Chefs page!
Why are they so excited about Skuna Bay?
First. Their salmon is raised in the only place where salmon should be raised – their natural ocean environment: the glacier-fed currents of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Vancouver Island, sites that provide fast flowing currents, cold clear water and perfect salinity using farm to table, non-industrial techniques.
Second. Skuna Bay is committed to farmers who love what they do and do it right. From the Gold River hatchery to final selection by one of six certified salmon experts, there is a complete focus on quality every step of the way.
Third. Skuna Bay exists to help feed the world and in doing so reduce pressure on wild fish stocks and the key is to protect the rest of the environment while doing it – from their completely recyclable packaging to the important details of feed, densities, and fallow periods. Skuna Bay is the only salmon farmer in the world to have multiple farms awarded with the Best Aquaculture Practices certification by the Global Aquaculture Alliance, the leading standards-setting organization for aquaculture seafood.
I urge you to try it. Skuna Bay salmon is only available through Santa Monica Seafood, the largest seafood distributor in the Southwest and a Seafood Watch partner – the restaurants also source from them. Santa Monica Seafood is known for the highest quality seafood and responsible sourcing, they are also a trusted source of seafood knowledge and innovation in the seafood industry. They recently became the first seafood company in the U.S. to receive Food Safety System Certification, the latest and most complete certification for food safety.
3801 E. Coast Highway
Corona del Mar, CA 92625