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Dining

Sockeye salmon to simply amaze

At American Fish, the wild stuff is where it’s at

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Ocean-water poached sockeye salmon with caviar and purple potatoes.
Photo: Beverly Poppe

When it comes to salmon, the more natural, the better. Farm-raised “Atlantic salmon,” besides not tasting as good as the wild stuff, also messes with Mother Nature by fouling the environment and, in some cases, producing a genetically modified species that looks like the fish equivalent of Barry Bonds’ love child with Mark McGwire.

Restaurant Guide

American Fish
At Aria, 877-230-2742.
Tuesday-Sunday, 5-10:30 p.m.

Lucky for salmon lovers, the Pacific Northwest sockeye runs of 2010 were some of the biggest in recorded history, and this year looks to be just as bountiful. Sockeye salmon is the smallest of the major salmon groups, but also the tastiest. Its flesh goes 10 shades beyond salmon “pink” to an intense orange-red they get from consuming orange-colored krill (tiny shrimp) during their saltwater lives. “Intensity” also describes the salmon-ness bursting through every dish at American Fish’s summer of sockeye succulence. A great chef knows you shouldn’t mess with great products, and chef Sven Meade knows when to let his fish do the talking. Fifty pounds are flown in from Alaska twice a week, and his dishes provide just enough accents to highlight, without overwhelming, such a fabulous main ingredient.

Griddled sockeye salmon with smoked trout roe, radish and ginger vinaigrette.

One bite of Meade’s sockeye sashimi and you will forswear the pale imitators at most sushi bars, just as you will marvel at the “griddled,” crispy-skinned rectangle in a vinaigrette of lime juice, fish sauce, ginger oil and chili pepper pickling juice as a marvel of spicy restraint. The five-course tasting menu ($75/per + $40 for the wine pairing) should come with a consumer warning: Consumption of sockeye salmon will ruin you for all other fish.

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