Dining & Wine

Expert Tips On Celebrating Salmon Season This Summer

June 13, 2024

Salmon season is kicking off and this is a great time to enjoy and celebrate B.C. salmon. Nearly 90 per cent of Canadians eat seafood on a regular basis, with salmon being one of the most popular choices. Just last month, Ocean Wise added 14 new recommendations for British Columbian wild-caught salmon under its sustainable seafood label. Sonia Strobel is the co-founder and CEO of Skipper Otto, a Vancouver-based community supported fishery that works with B.C. fishing families to provide sustainable, wild seafood to over 8,000 households across Canada. Skipper Otto has long provided sustainably caught salmon to its members and works closely with organizations like Ocean Wise. We chatted with Sonia to learn more. —Noa Nichol

What are the key highlights and expectations for this year’s salmon season, and how is Skipper Otto preparing to meet the demand?

We’re so excited that BC salmon fishing season opened on June 11th this year. Skipper Otto helps its members eat with the ecosystem by harvesting only from abundant runs and only using small-scale, sustainable gear methods. This year’s salmon season is off to a great start with our fishers in Barkley Sound off the west coast of Vancouver Island bringing in an abundant first load of gorgeous, silver-bright sockeye salmon! We’re expecting good returns of salmon both off the west coast of Vancouver Island and in BC’s far north and our fishing families are geared up and ready to head to those openings.

Could you explain the differences between various salmon varieties like Coho, Chinook, Pink, and Sockeye, and how consumers can choose the right type for their needs?

At Skipper Otto, we catch all five Pacific species: sockeye, chinook, coho, chum, and pink salmon (when available). Our members can choose from filets, cold-smoked lox, hot-smoked salmon strips, candied nuggets, or a variety of canned options. Each species of salmon brings something special to your table. 

Chinook is the largest and fattiest of the Pacific salmon varieties. Its high-fat content results in a rich, buttery flavour and a tender texture. Due to its rich flavour, Chinook is ideal for special occasions and can be enjoyed grilled, poached, or smoked. It’s also excellent for sashimi.

Sockeye salmon are known for their deep red flesh and firm texture. They have a distinctive, robust flavour and moderate fat content. Sockeye is great for grilling, baking, and smoking, as it holds its shape well during cooking. Its strong flavour pairs well with bold seasonings.

Coho salmon have a moderate fat content, making their flesh firm and flavourful. Coho is versatile and works well for grilling, baking, and smoking. It’s a good middle ground in terms of flavour and richness, making it suitable for a variety of recipes.

Chum salmon has a lower fat content, giving it a milder flavour and a firmer texture compared to richer varieties like Chinook and Sockeye. It is versatile and works well in a variety of dishes as its milder flavour makes it suitable for recipes where it can absorb marinades and seasonings.

Pink salmon is the smallest and most abundant of the Pacific salmon species. It has a lighter, softer texture and lower fat content compared to other varieties. Pink salmon is often canned or used in recipes where a milder flavour is preferred. It’s also great for burgers, salads, and casseroles.

The variety you should go with will depend on how you plan to enjoy it and what your budget is. Chinook and sockeye are typically the most expensive due to their size, colour, and flavour. Coho are often more moderately priced, and chum and pink salmon are usually the most affordable. For grilling or special dishes, chinook and sockeye are excellent choices. For everyday meals or recipes requiring milder fish, pink, chum and coho would be the way to go. 

With sustainability being a core value at Skipper Otto, how do you ensure that the fish you provide is sustainably caught, and what should consumers look for to make sure they are buying sustainably sourced seafood?

All our seafood is caught by our community of 45 small-scale independent fishing families. All commercially-caught BC seafood is conservatively managed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) which places conservation as its top priority. In addition, we rely heavily on third-party watch-dogs like MSC and OceanWise to help verify this. And lastly, we employ our own in-house researcher to help us analyze and understand data to make even more nuanced decisions than DFO and third party verifiers can do.

Sustainability is at the heart of Skipper Otto and we have a healthy obsession with transparency—we know exactly when and where our fishers are harvesting each species. Where third party verifiers often don’t have the capacity to look at salmon runs in a granular way, we apply their same methodologies to each specific salmon run on a run-by-run basis, and only harvest from runs that we determine meet stringent sustainability criteria. For every opportunity we have to source salmon from a given location on the coast, we watch and listen closely for any objections from First Nations, conservation groups, academics, and others, and we investigate those concerns. After considering the evidence and weighing the potential risks to conservation, we then decide if we’re comfortable sourcing from that fishery. 

For consumers looking to ensure they are enjoying sustainably caught salmon they often need to go further than the Ocean Wise label. Many may remember the reports that found nearly half of fish products in Canada are mislabeled. Fraud and mislabelling make it difficult to have confidence that you are buying what you think you are. That’s why joining a Community Supported Fishery (CSF) is one of the most important ways to ensure you are getting truly sustainably caught wild seafood. At Skipper Otto, each piece of fish you purchase comes with a label identifying the person who caught the fish, when it was caught, and where. This is the level of transparency that we are committed to. 

As it is the beginning of salmon season, it is the perfect time to join a CSF like Skipper Otto. We have more than 100 pick up locations from Victoria to Montreal, a 100% money-back satisfaction guarantee, and zero-commitment starter memberships as low as $100. We are committed to helping as many Canadians as possible enjoy wild, sustainably caught BC-salmon. 

How has Skipper Otto’s partnership with organizations like Ocean Wise influenced your operations, and what impact do you see from the recent addition of new sustainable seafood recommendations for British Columbian wild-caught salmon?

We are a proud Ocean Wise partner and the granular, run-by-run process that our in-house scientist developed in 2019 was some of the inspiration for Ocean Wise’s new Rapid Assessment program that has allowed them to recently return many runs of BC salmon to their recommended list. We were honoured to be in conversation with Ocean Wise on the development of their new methodology, excited about their recent announcement, and we look forward to continuing our work together. 

What is your favorite recipe for cold smoked salmon, and can you share any tips for getting the best flavour out of these products? 

A recent favorite way to use Skipper Otto’s smoked salmon is with a seafood spin on the classic eggs benedict. Skipper Otto member and local chef, Steve Waldron has the whole team obsessed with his creative Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict recipe. I will note, Steve loves to BBQ all year round, but you can grill the mushrooms in a very hot cast iron grill skillet on the stovetop if you prefer. He also suggests making the hollandaise sauce first, as well as grilling the mushrooms and cooking the eggs last. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do. I think it is the perfect brunch recipe for any special person in your life to wake up to.

Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict


Eggs Benny:

  • 1 can Skipper Otto Smoked Salmon eg: pink or sockeye
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 large portobello mushrooms, stump and gills removed
  • 1/2 cup arugula
  • 1 Tbsp oil or vegetable spray for mushrooms

Hollandaise Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 eggs, yolks only
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt, pepper, sugar, tabasco sauce and dry mustard
  • Garnish – caviar or micro greens – optional


  1. Preheat BBQ grill, or grill pan on stove to medium-high heat.
  2. Fill a medium saucepan with 2 or 3 inches of water and bring to a very gentle simmer. This is for the eggs.
  3. Brush or spray both sides of the mushrooms and then grill the mushrooms for 3 or 4 minutes per side until they have softened and are warmed through.
  4. Add all of the sauce ingredients to a blender, except for the butter.
  5. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat until boiling, being careful not to brown it.
  6. With the blender running, slowly pour the melted butter into the blender until you have a nice thick sauce. Cover and keep warm
  7. Crack the 2 eggs and put each egg into its own small dish. This will make it easier to pour into the water.
  8. With a wooden spoon or similar, make a whirlpool in the simmering water then drop the eggs into the center of the whirlpool, one at a time, and set your timer for 3 ½ minutes. This will cook the eggs to soft. If you prefer a firmer yolk, cook them a little longer.


While the eggs are cooking, build your eggs Benedict by placing the mushroom, grill side up, then add the arugula and then the smoked salmon. Add the egg once it’s finished cooking and then ladle the sauce over everything. Garnish with whatever you have on hand (like caviar and micro greens) or nothing at all. Servings: two people. Enjoy!

Recipe and photo by Steve Waldron.


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