A Culinary Voyage of Copper River Salmon with Lisa Bryan
Last but certainly not least of the Fall Salmon Camp guests for the 2023 season is the talented Lisa Bryan of Downshiftology. Where do we begin?! Lisa has an extensive background as a blogger, including writing a bestselling cookbook, having more than 10 million viewers a month on her blog, and advocating for fresh, simple, and seasonal ingredients. We are super impressed with her extensive knowledge in her field: everything from the politics that surround sustainability and responsible consumption of food to finding the ideal SEO methods to grow her website in a more efficient way. I learned a lot from Lisa during her trip to Cordova, and I hope that her on-point responses to some of the questions I asked her will be just as influential for you.
What role do you believe social media influencers play in raising awareness about sustainable seafood and responsible fishing practices?
I believe social media influencers play an integral role in raising awareness not only about sustainable seafood and responsible fishing practices but also about our food supply in general. The unfortunate reality is that society today is really disconnected on where our food comes from. Globalization has made seasonal food available year-round, and pretty packaging and marketing lingo often obfuscates everything from the food source to ingredient lists and the perceived "healthiness" of a product. But social media influencers have powerful platforms, being able to reach millions of people (I reach over 120 million people a year now!), and can communicate first hand experience and knowledge. Just as I did on Instagram stories, talking about the vast amount I learned about fishing nets, responsible fishing practices, and quality salmon handling, after talking to the fisherman from Cordova, Alaska! Plus, there's a level of trust and authentic influence that social media influencers have with their community that mass media will never be able to replicate.
Sustainability is a significant focus in the Copper River fishery. How do you plan to use your platform to advocate for sustainable seafood practices moving forward?
For years, I've advocated for wild Alaskan seafood. I was fortunate that my aunt and uncle lived and fished in Ketchikan, Alaska, and I visited them at a young age, even catching my own seafood! So I could understand and appreciate the pristine beauty and wildlife of Alaska. But as the world population increases, the focus on sustainability needs to increase - and exponentially so! I've always been one who has prioritized quality and sustainability when it comes to food, meaning, I'd much rather pay a premium for small farm organic produce, grass-fed beef, and wild-caught Alaskan salmon. To me, paying that premium upfront now helps to ensure I pay less in healthcare needs down the line, as I truly believe that quality food is an investment in our own health. That's why I want to do whatever is possible to help ensure that wild, healthy, Copper River Salmon is available for generations to come. And the more I educate my community across my website, YouTube channel, and social media, the more that knowledge will spread like wild-fire to their friends and family.
What was the most surprising or eye-opening aspect of your journey that you didn't expect before arriving in Cordova?
The thing I was most blown away by was just how small the fishing boats were! I had no idea that, in many instances, they would be operated by only one or two people. In my mind, I had envisioned much larger commercial fishing boats with big crews. So I really appreciated talking to several fishermen to get a better understanding of their process - from catching the salmon, to cleaning the salmon, to flash-freezing the salmon, and to gently handling each salmon individually along that process. The respect that the fishermen have for their catch and the environment in general was truly inspiring
Could you share with us one of your favorite ways to prepare salmon? Do you have any signature dishes or cooking techniques that you believe truly highlight the flavors of this fish?
When you've got quality salmon, it doesn't need much! I think the best preparation method is one in which the natural flavor of the salmon shines through. So I love to bake salmon in the oven with just a little bit of lemon, butter, garlic, and herbs. That's the quick-and-easy method I use most often. But I also can't ignore that air fryers are all the rage and who doesn't love getting a healthy salmon dinner on the table in under 10 minutes? So my air fryer salmon recipe, with just a little sprinkle of paprika and Dijon mustard, is hard to resist as well!