Among wild Pacific salmon, king (chinook) rank as the biggest and richest, by far.
And king salmon from Alaska's Copper River is the crème de la crème … a stupendously succulent fish that melts in your mouth!
Every year, the Copper King harvest sets off a scramble among restaurants and retailers seeking to snare some of this elegant, ephemeral treat.
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What makes Copper River king so amazingly rich?
Unique circumstances give Copper River king salmon its unsurpassed oil content and richness.
The Copper River is the 10th largest river in the United States …a massive, mile-wide monster that drains 24,000 square miles of Alaskan territory and drops an average of 12 feet per mile.
After spending from one to five years at sea, king salmon born in the Copper River must swim 300 miles upstream against a speedy seven mile-per-hour current and through rapids and narrow, fast-rushing canyons to reach their spawning grounds.
Migrating salmon do not feed during their epic upstream struggle … and over thousands of years, Copper River kings acquired the instinct to accumulate the extra "fuel" reserves needed to reach their distant spawning grounds.
Because their epic effort requires such huge fat stores, these "thoroughbreds" among wild salmon grow rapidly in the ocean, often doubling their weight during a single summer season.
As a consequence, Copper River king salmon is incredibly luscious, with twice the fat of other wild salmon per serving, and 25 percent more fat than other king salmon.
King salmon nutrition
In addition to ample protein, king salmon offers abundant omega-3s, as well as unrivaled levels of vitamin D and astaxanthin (as-tuh-zan-thin) … a carotene-class red-orange pigment with rare health benefits.
These amounts are the averages per 6 oz portion, and will vary annually and from fish to fish:
- Omega-3s – King salmon averages 2,200mg per 3.5-oz. serving, which is several times more omega-3s than in many fish oil capsules.
- Vitamin D3 – About 400 IU in the optimal D3 form, which is more than most other fish, and more than any fortified food, approaching the child-to-adult US RDA of 600 IU.
- Astaxanthin – About 4mg (red king). This red-orange pigment is a carotene-type nutrient with unique health benefits. Astaxanthin content varies by color: Red king portions have the most while ivory king portions have the least.