Monday, May 18, 2015

Copper River Salmon Season Returns to Ray's Restaurants

Every year around this time, seafood lovers in the know celebrate the seasonal return of fresh king salmon from the Copper River in Alaska. Prized for its naturally high Omega-3 oil content as well as its superb flavor and texture, Copper River salmon makes an appearance on a few menus around Atlanta for a limited time beginning mid-May.  People have been known to call around town searching for restaurants that serve it - it's that good. 

According to Cheryl Fuller, director of fresh seafood operations for Halperns’ Steak and Seafood, the quality of this year’s Copper River salmon supply will be stellar as all of the fish are bled immediately on the fishing boats while they are still alive. This bleeding process is a contributing factor in the salmon’s superior flavor; blood can make the fish taste unpleasant and can reduce its shelf life. Diners can feel good about eating it as Copper River salmon runs are all carefully managed for long-term sustainability by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Beginning late May, Copper River salmon will be offered at market price at Ray’s Restaurants (Ray’s at Killer Creek in Alpharetta, Ray’s in the City in Downtown Atlanta and Ray’s on the River in Sandy Springs).

Ray’s corporate executive chef Mike Fuller has created several specials to be featured throughout the season, including a peppered Copper River king salmon dish with arugula rice grits and blood orange salad (photo here). Below you will find Chef Fuller’s recipe that home cooks will find useful for preparing king salmon. He recommends serving the dish with a light, crisp Sauvignon Blanc.

I know your readers will enjoy learning about this very seasonal fish and the opportunity to taste it at Ray's.  If you have additional questions about the Copper River salmon, please contact me at or 404-816-3068.

Peppered Copper River Salmon with Arugula Rice Grits and Blood Orange Salad
By Mike Fuller
Serves 4

2 cups local baby arugula, separated
1/4 cup fresh basil
1 Tbls almonds
1 tsp fresh garlic
3 Tbls olive oil, separated
2 cups cooked rice grits (Anson Mills, preferred cooked according to package directions)
4 (7 oz.) block cut Copper River salmon filets
2 Tbls sea salt
1 Tbls Tellicherry black pepper (fresh ground)
1 Tbls unsalted butter
2 blood orange
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

Prepare grits:

In a Robocoupe or Vitamix combine 1 cup arugula with basil, almonds, garlic, 1 Tbls olive oil and blend until smooth. Scrape pesto into a small mixing bowl. Combine cooked rice with pesto in mixing bowl, season to taste. Hold mixture warm while preparing salmon.

Prepare salmon:

Season salmon with pinch of salt and good amount of fresh ground pepper. Heat sauté pan and add 1 Tbls olive oil and 1 Tbls butter until melted. Sear salmon (serving side first) over med high heat, turning once after about 4 minutes until browned on both sides and cooked to medium center.

Prepare blood orange salad:

Peel and cut supremes from whole oranges. Squeeze remaining parts oranges into a small sauce pot. Add fresh orange juice to squeezed pulps and heat over medium high-heat until liquid is reduced by 75%.

Toss remaining arugula with orange segments, 1 Tbls olive oil and 1 tbls orange juice reduction in a clean mixing bowl.


Place mound of rice grits mixture in center of plate. Top rice with salmon. Top salmon with arugula and oranges. Drizzle remainder of orange reduction around perimeter of plate.

Serve with light, crisp Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc.