Pacific Northwest: Delish Fish

Visit a fish market in the Pacific Northwest and immerse yourself in the scents and flavors. A bounty of deliciousness is harvested from the ocean, rivers, and streams. Relish the samples!

Published: 6/28/2017

Black cod

Also known as sablefish or butterfish, black cod has a distinct, buttery flavor that is mild but rich and a velvety texture with large white flakes. Packed with healthy omega-3 fatty acids, black cod’s high oil content keeps it moist, making it easy to cook. It’s great on the grill, broiled, or baked. If you like Chilean sea bass, give black cod a try.
PAIR WITH Viognier from Idaho’s Snake River Valley


The Pacific Northwest boasts five types of salmon. Sample them all, but don’t miss the king. Also referred to as chinook, king salmon is the largest Pacific salmon species. This flaky, oily salmon is the earliest to market and the most sought after, prized for its high fat content and melt-in-your-mouth flesh that ranges in color from ivory to deep orange-red. Baked, grilled, or broiled, king salmon really is the king of the sea.
PAIR WITH Pinot Noir from Oregon’s Chehalem Mountains

Pacific halibut

Firm, flaky, and mild, halibut is a great choice when you’re not in the mood for strong-flavored fish. The meat has ultra-low fat content, a dense texture, and although it is mild, it requires little seasoning. Halibut is sold in fillets or steaks. It’s great for boiling, deep frying, grilling, baking, barbecuing, and stuffing, and it makes fabulous fish and chips.
PAIR WITH Gewürztraminer from Washington’s Columbia Valley

Halibut cheeks

Often in limited supply, halibut cheeks come from the head of the fish and are considered a delicacy. They are boneless and extremely tender and moist. They have a firm texture and are sometimes compared to crabmeat or sea scallops. Halibut cheeks are particularly delicious pan fried, grilled, or roasted.
PAIR WITH Pinot Noir from Washington’s YakimaValley

Rainbow trout

Packed with omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B-12, and many other good-for-you properties, rainbow trout thrives in cold, clear rivers and streams. In fact, more than 70 percent of the nation’s rainbow trout comes from Idaho alone. Delicate and flaky, rainbow trout is great grilled, broiled, baked, fried, and poached.
PAIR WITH Grenache from Idaho’s Snake River Valley

Clams and Mussels

A nice variety of clams and mussels are harvested along the coastline. Experiment with a range of these bite-sized wonders in chowders, stews, and sauces. Steamed clams and mussels are divine dipped in garlic butter, baked, boiled, or fried.
PAIR WITH Sauvignon Blanc from Washington’s ColumbiaValley


Oysters fresh from the farms ofWashington and Oregon are a real treat. Have a taste for raw oysters? Watch for water spilling from the shell and a fresh sea aroma as the oyster is shucked. That’s a sure sign of freshness. This region boasts more than two dozen varieties of oysters—each with its own flavor profile, so be adventuresome. Plump, sweet, and nutritious, oysters can be enjoyed raw, fried, grilled, and simmered in chowders and stews.
PAIR WITH Sparkling wine from Oregon’s Dundee Hills

Dungeness crab

There’s king crab and snow crab, but Dungeness crab is the sweetest of all! It was deemed as the most distinctive by Julia Child, who called it “unadulterated crab heaven.” Sporting a bright orange shell color and tender, flaky white meat, Dungeness crab is a festive dish. Most often it is served whole, either hot or cold, and paired with melted butter or dipping sauces.
PAIR WITH Chardonnay from Oregon’s Columbia Gorge


The world’s largest burrowing clam, geoduck (goo-ey duck) is a rather grotesque looking shellfish with a long neck. It has two parts: a long, protruding neck (or siphon) and the thicker body, which is protected inside the shell. The sweet neck meat is often served raw in ceviche or crudo, while the mild body meat is often stewed, stirfried, or pan fried. The preparation of geoduck is a several-step process that’s considered a rite of passage for some regional chefs. Expect a chewy briny flavor and a texture that’s crisper than clams.
PAIR WITH Pinot Gris from Washington’s Walla Walla Valley

Alderwood smoked salmon

The Western Red Alder tree is indigenous west of the Pacific Northwest’s Cascade Mountain range. Its natural sugars provide a unique smoked flavor that adds a naturally sweet flavor to salmon and other fish. Fresh Alderwood smoked salmon is the perfect combination of smoky and sweet, with a tender, flaky consistency. Pick up a chunk for a tantalizing appetizer served with crackers and cream cheese. Also try it tossed in pasta or folded into an omelet.
PAIR WITH Malbec from Oregon’s Rogue Valley

Smoked salmon candy

This scrumptious snack was once relied on as a staple food in remote parts of the Pacific Northwest. It combines fatty-savory-smoky-sweet flavors into just one bite. Smoked salmon candy is fresh salmon that’s smoked so long it almost becomes jerky in texture. It’s lacquered with brown sugar and secret spices. If you can resist gobbling it all up in one sitting, smoked salmon candy lasts for a week in the refrigerator.
PAIR WITH Cabernet Sauvignon from Washington’s Red Mountain

As seen in the issue Summer/Fall 2017 of Touring & Tasting Magazine.