What we eat has a major impact on the health of the planet. Luckily, there are people like Kyle Lee, a 29-year-old Alaskan fisherman, who are here to deliver more sustainable dishes to our dining tables.
“Did you know much of wild-caught fish goes through processors, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers until it finally reaches the consumer,” Lee says. “We deserve fresher seafood, fewer people handling the product, and Alaskan Salmon [Lee’s company] removes all middlemen to go from ‘fishermen-to-doorstep.'”
Lee grew up sportfishing on the Kenai River every summer alongside his father where he developed his love for being out on the water. While attending college, he had his first taste of commercial fishing life, where he “recognized the disconnect in the quality of salmon in the states and what was back in my freezer in Alaska.”
So, he began to research to find a better way to deliver fresher wild-caught Alaskan seafood without all the extras that muddy the process.
“After earning a finance degree from the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, I had a decision to make: either accept the job offer and join the corporate world or continue fishing. I knew I could always find a job in an office somewhere, but to have the opportunity to fish in some of the world’s most beautiful and unseen areas of Alaska was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he says.
In 2015, he purchased a commercial fishing boat and started the Alaskan Salmon Company, a direct-from-the-dock salmon operation allowing at-home cooks and seafood enthusiasts to pre-order salmon you could otherwise only find in fine-dining establishments.
While Lee wants to make it clear that not all fisheries are the same, he does implore people to always attempt to buy Alaskan. “[Alaskan] fisheries are the gold standard in actual sustainability practices. In regards to salmon, it is more than just a lifestyle for us Alaskans. It is deeply rooted in our traditions,” he says. “Many rural communities depend on the annual salmon runs to provide access to their only source of protein for the year, which is why Alaska is the only state to have sustainable fishing written into its constitution. “
The company, he notes, implemented meticulous steps to handle the fish as minimally as possible to keep it as “mother nature intended it to be.” Along the way, Lee removed 7-10 of those pesky middlemen, meaning consumers get a fresher tasting bite and the knowledge it’s coming from the source with fewer fossil fuels involved, and also from higher-paid employees.
“We hope to inspire people to have the confidence to cook more seafood at home and we will continue to provide transparency and education about our fisheries and seafood, and of course more delicious recipes,” he says. As for his favorite way to prepare his own stock, Lee says it’s best raw.
“When you eat it raw, you get more of the umami flavor. Copper River King salmon is called the King of Kings for a reason. It melts in your mouth and the flavor profile is insane,” he says. “When I cook it, I am pretty light on the seasoning because the salmon already has so much flavor on its own, and I don’t want to mask any of it. When I have the time, I love to make lox out of it for future snacking.”
Get your own salmon and learn more about the company’s sustainability efforts here.