Most of us care about our oceans and our health and recognize that the two are inter-connected. No one recognizes that more than the Native Alaskan people who have fished the oceans for thousands of years.
Sugpiaq is a Native-owned fishing company that fishes in a sustainable manner and sells salmon, halibut, cod, and rockfish from Alaska’s icy and pure waters.
Founded by Native Alaskan Isabella Blatchford, a Sugpiaq and Inupiaq Eskimo who grew up on Kodiak Island, Sugpiaq’s goal is “to sustain our waters for future generations giving them the ability to fish in the same pure waters as we have.” The company is certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council and is the only privately-owned Alaskan Native seafood company in Alaska.
Blatchford says their products are all wild (never farm raised) and naturally organic. “It is against our laws to add color, hormones or farm raise,” she explains. “For most, seafood is an industry; to me, a Sugpiaq, it is part of my heritage, my culture, and lifestyle.”
The fish, caught only in Alaskan waters, are processed following strict guidelines and are quickly flash frozen to preserve freshness and flavor. To reduce the company’s carbon footprint and material waste, they only ship minimum orders of five pounds or more.
Our shipment from Sugpiaq arrived overnight via Federal Express in a thermal box. All of the fish is packed and vacuum sealed in individual portions. The sockeye salmon, which is a brilliant red, comes skin-on in six ounce portions; the halibut, skinless and boneless, is packed in eight ounce portions; and the skin-on rockfish portions are one pound.
We followed the thawing directions (overnight in the refrigerator) and used the recipes provided on Sugpiaq’s website. The Bronzed Sockeye Salmon recipe called for browning the salmon and then cooking it in a sauce of white wine or broth, seasoning, and butter. The result was salmon that was rich, firm, and tasty with no fishy flavor. Because Sugpiaq salmon is always ocean caught (rather than river caught), there’s no chance it will taste muddy. Because sockeye salmon is firmer and has a stronger flavor than some other types of salmon, we think this rich fish would also be excellent smoked and we’re going to pop it in RFT’s Little Chief Smoker to see.
We poached both the halibut and rockfish in orange juice, broth, teriyaki, rum, and allspice and used Sugpiaq’s directions to “cook for two minutes and turn off heat and let seafood rest five minutes until the seafood is opaque throughout.” We were pleasantly surprised that both pieces of fish cooked perfectly (even the large piece of rockfish) and yielded moist, sweet fish.
The halibut, soft and tender, has a clean satisfying flavor. Sugpiaq’s calls the big chunky rockfish “one of Alaska’s best kept secrets” and we agree. The fish has a sweet, subtle flavor and firm, meaty texture like monkfish or mahi mahi. (Our portions came with skin on and we recommend removing the skin before serving to avoid the scales. ) Neither the halibut nor the rockfish have any hint of fishiness and both have the cold, clean taste of Alaskan waters.
Real bottom line: If you want fresh frozen fish that’s naturally organic and delicious, Alaskan-caught Supiaq seafood products are a great choice. The fish is shipped overnight and comes in easy-to-use vacuum-sealed packages. The company uses sustainable practices to catch and process wild caught Alaskan fish and pays its Native and non-Native fishermen fair prices for their labors. So not only will you get delicious, healthful fish, you can feel great about supporting this sustainable company. www.sugpiaq.com
Here’s a recipe they shared with us for Bronzed Salmon.
— Review by Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor