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Alaska halibut meal

Catch of the Day: Your Guide to Alaska’s Fresh, Delicious Seafood

Catch of the Day: Your Guide to Alaska’s Fresh, Delicious Seafood

Alaska Seafood is one of a kind. With the abundance of clean, cold ocean water and freshwater that surrounds and flows through Alaska, the sustainably harvested seafood here is fresh and highly nutritious. With dozens of options and species to choose from, the world-famous seafood is available to purchase from Alaskan vendors, restaurants, or catch for yourself. Whether you’re looking to fish the world-famous Alaska waters, enjoy some local cuisine - or both - Alaska seafood is unrivaled for a reason! 

Types of Seafood in Alaska

Alaska seafood is harvested in specific seasons and locations for each species. While harvesting seasons vary, you can find delicious Alaska seafood year-round. You can purchase and order freshly caught seafood or enjoy it later smoked, canned, and frozen. Fishing charters will typically freeze and vacuum seal your catch so you can send fresh Alaska seafood home to enjoy later, and you can also purchase and order frozen Alaska seafood from grocery stores and vendors across the state.

Alaska fisheries and seafood vendors focus on sustainability and quality, shipping seafood (often overnight!) throughout Alaska, the United States, and even internationally. Local restaurants also use these local vendors to bring the freshness of Alaska cuisine from ocean to table. Additionally, Alaska Native Peoples have practiced subsistence fishing for thousands of years, mastering techniques of both fishing and preparing their catch that continue today.

Here are some of the most popular types of seafood in Alaska:

Salmon

One of the most sought-after species of seafood in Alaska is our world-famous salmon. There are five distinct species of salmon: king, coho, sockeye, pink, and chum. While all species are rich with omega-3s, protein, and nutrients, the most famous and popular are kings, cohos (also known as silvers), and sockeyes (also known as reds). King and coho salmon are known for their size, with the record for a king salmon caught by hand at a whopping 97 pounds! While kings are known for their rich flavor and high healthy fat content, cohos are renowned for their delicate flavor. Sockeyes are known for their deep, red color and are rich in healthy fat content. While not as big as kings, sockeyes are less expensive and a great option for all kinds of cooking preparations.

Each type of salmon has its own harvesting season, with king salmon harvested in the Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea, and Southeast Alaska waters. Thanks to winter trolling in Southeast Alaska, fresh Alaska king salmon can be enjoyed almost year-round. The other species of salmon are harvested between May and September. 

If you’re looking to fish for salmon yourself, you’ll need to purchase a fishing license/fishing stamps and adhere to fishing regulations regarding seasonality and harvesting limits. The fishing season for kings is typically late May through late July. For coho, sockeye, chum, and pinks, the season falls between June and September, depending on the species. Some of the best places to fish for salmon are along the Kenai Peninsula, Prince Willaim Sound, the Copper River Valley, Kodiak, Bristol Bay, and Southeast Alaska. 

When it comes to how to eat Alaska salmon, the preparations are as varied as they are delicious. Some of the most popular salmon dishes in Alaska are simply grilled or pan seared with spices and lemon juice to highlight the fish’s excellent flavor. Alaska salmon is also popular in fish tacos, chowders, curries, sushi, salmon burgers, and is delicious roasted, smoked, and canned. 

Alaska salmon dinner

Halibut

Alaska halibut is famous for its delicious mild-flavored white meat and perfect flaky texture. Due to their size (some can weigh over 500 pounds!) and habitat on the bottom of the sea floor, these are sustainably harvested by boat and cannot be caught off-shore or by hand without proper equipment. Halibut are harvested mid-March through November from the Gulf of Alaska, the Bering Sea, and in the waters of Southeast Alaska. You can catch one of these “barn door” beauties for yourself on fishing charters from the Kenai Peninsula (Homer, Seward, Kenai, and other coastal communities), Prince William Sound, Kodiak, and communities in Alaska’s Inside Passage

Famously served beer-battered (with local beer of course), grilled, crusted, baked, pan seared, or in fish tacos or sandwiches (just to name a few options), these giant species of fish are a favorite with locals and visitors alike. Don’t pass up the opportunity to try halibut cheeks if you see them on the menu – this special cut of fish has a sweeter flavor and more delicate texture and are an absolute delight. 

Alaska halibut salad
Photo Credit: Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute

Cod & Rockfish

There are two types of cod in Alaska: Pacific cod and black cod. While Pacific cod is harvested in Alaska waters year-round, black cod is harvested mid-March through November. Sport fishing charters offer multi-species fishing trips that include cod, or you can target just this species on cod-specific trips. Both Pacific and black cod are slightly sweet white fish with firm, flaky texture, and served in a variety of ways including fish & chips, fish tacos, grilled, roasted, and pan seared. 

Harvested in Alaska year-round, rockfish are known for their delicious flavor, meaty texture, and versatility. Whether grilled, fried, sauteed, baked, poached, or added to a fish taco, Alaska rockfish is a tasty, lean, protein-packed fish. 

Rockfish tacos in Alaska

Shellfish

From dinner plates to epic reality shows, Alaska’s shellfish are world-renowned (and delicious).

Crab

King crab, Dungeness crab, and snow crab are famous for both their harvesting process and their yield of buttery and delicious crabmeat. While Bering Sea crab fishing is the most famous thanks to the show Deadliest Catch, Alaska crab is also harvested in the Gulf of Alaska, Southeast Alaska, and the Norton Sound throughout the year. King crab is known for its immense size, with a leg span of up to 5 feet, and large legs, which can be up to two pounds each! Fresh Alaska crab is best appreciated with simple preparations to fully savor the sweet and buttery meat – there’s no better treat than enjoying whole Alaska king crab legs with a side of butter and lemon. You’ll also find crab featured in crab cakes, bisques and soups, pasta dishes, and seafood boils. 

Alaska king crab

Scallops

Alaska is a scallop-lover’s dream come true. The weathervane scallops in Alaska are the largest species of scallop in the world, harvested from July through February from the icy waters of the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska. The sweet meat is best enjoyed lightly seared on its own or on salads and pastas. Scallops are also enjoyable grilled, smoked, or in soups or sushi. 

Scallop dinner in Alaska

Shrimp

With four species of shrimp (sidestripe, spot, coonstripe, and northern) there’s plenty of sweet tasting shrimp to choose from in Alaska! Sidestripes and spot prawns are a favorite, known for their delicate texture and sweet, robust flavor. These are harvested primarily along the coast of Southeast Alaska and in Prince William Sound. Enjoy fresh Alaska shrimp grilled, sauteed, and fried. Popular shrimp dishes include shrimp cocktail, coconut shrimp, tacos, and pasta dishes. 

Spot prawns with Pasta
Photo Credit: Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute

Oysters

Though Pacific oysters are not native to Alaska, the state’s cold, clean ocean waters produce some of the best oysters in the world. Oyster farms in Kachemak Bay outside of Homer, Hump Island near Ketchikan, and Simpson Bay in Cordova sustainably produce plump, sweet, and all around delicious oysters. Alaska oysters are shipped fresh to restaurants around the state and can be enjoyed raw or cooked. 

Oysters in Alaska

Are you hungry yet? Check out our Foodie’s Itinerary for the Best Seafood in Alaska and visit the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute website to browse recipes and get tips on buying Alaska seafood.

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