Ōra King Salmon

By: Deborah Reid

Ora King salmon is thought to be the wagyu of the sea because of its high-fat content and the marbled fat lines that contrast beautifully with the bright orange flesh. It’s hard to believe this is a farmed fish, but it’s raised and processed to meet exceptional culinary standards. Whole on the counter it averages 4 to 7 kg (9 to 15 lbs.) and has bright silver-blue skin with black spots above the lateral line, and a rounder midsection than the somewhat flattened Atlantic salmon. The flesh is moderately firm with large, delicate flakes and the naturally high oil content gives it a silky, buttery texture and rich, sweet, umami flavour. It also keeps the salmon moist, greatly reducing the risk of over-cooking. It’s a versatile fish ideal for sashimi and sushi, cured for gravlax, or cold smoked. Bake it with asparagus and ripe cherry tomatoes, or pan-fry in butter with garlic and lemon. The Omega-3 content is the highest of any salmon, and it’s also high in protein.

There is a strong relationship of care between the fish and people at Ora King Salmon. More than 20 years of genetics expertise and sustainable husbandry practices have gone into the breeding program to create the finest King salmon. Eggs and hatchlings are nurtured in the crystal clear waters flowing from Te Waikoropupu Springs, where the waters have been verified as some of the clearest in the world. In their first year, the smolt are transported to Marlborough Sounds, to mature in fast-flowing sea waters, emulating the lifecycle of the wild King salmon. Salmon farming in Marlborough has a tiny footprint, and the sea farm pens are 98% water space to 2% salmon. When the salmon mature, they are harvested in a humane manner that is quick, effective, and stress-free. A master grader oversees processing, and each salmon gets a numbered gill tag to provide traceability and evidence of the product’s authenticity.

Ora King works with the local council, government, key stakeholders and experts to develop Best Practice Guidelines for salmon farming in the Marlborough Sounds. They achieved the world-leading Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certification from The Global Aquaculture Alliance. New Zealand has no indigenous salmon, and the introduction of King salmon has posed no threat to any wild populations. Feed comes from sustainable, certified GMO-free suppliers and contains everything the salmon need to thrive and grow. The salmon is certified as a best choice by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch and is recommended by Ocean Wise in Vancouver.

46º South Fish Co. in Vancouver manages the logistics of importing New Zealand seafood to Canada. With an emphasis on sustainable fishing, they focus on promoting and marketing New Zealand seafood in Canada that is both responsibly caught and farmed. The seafood, fresh and/or live, is directly imported into Vancouver to ensure optimal freshness and is generally here within 48 hrs of being harvested.