Salmon Challenge at Bluewater Boathouse: Can You Tell Wild vs Farmed?

Bluewater Salmon Challenge

Whenever I have the opportunity to taste the Bluewater Boathouse tasting menus each month (and then spread the word here!), I come away amazed and thankful that we have such a unique and delicious way to experience seafood right here in Coronado. The menu changes each month at Bluewater, and always the monthly tasting menu includes the freshest and finest fish in season. The food is never the same at Bluewater — unless its sameness is its consistently superior quality, variety, and sustainability.

This month, Bluewater is offering its “Inside Passage” tasting menu, which focuses on the salmon from the islands on the Pacific coast of North America from Alaska to Washington state. On May 9th, the beautiful plate included four different fillets of salmon: two Atlantic salmon fillets (one wild, one farmed) and two King salmon fillets (one wild, one farmed), as well as a side of green beans, scalloped potatoes, and lemon.

Bluewater Boathouse’s Salmon Challenge

Bluewater’s General Manager, Steve Ewing, delivered our plates himself and carefully described which salmon fillet was which. He invited us to appreciate the differences: stronger taste in the wild salmon, and a milder taste with more oil in the farmed fillets. We did our best, but neither my husband nor I could tell a difference — we failed the salmon challenge! That didn’t matter, though; the salmon was absolutely perfect, and our palates are not incredibly discerning. What we did notice was that each piece was delectably prepared, with a crisp, melt-in-your-mouth exterior and a perfect, tender, just-barely cooked interior. I dug in, mouth watering, and enjoyed all the salmon I could possibly hold. Neither of us could finish the generous plates, and we very much enjoyed the leftovers the next day.

The tasting was paired with not one but two glasses of wine. We started with the light and fruity 2014 Viognier, made by Hermit Crab in South Australia. I love Viognier; it tastes like summer on a hot day. We picked up pleasant aromas of white peach, lychee, and jasmine on the nose. The fresh, bright wine was a perfect compliment to the deliciously fatty salmon.

Later, we tried the second wine on the tasting menu, a 2014 Pinot Noir from Castle Rock Vineyard in Monterey, California. This wine was a dusty ruby color, crisp and dry with moderate oak. The wine had aromas of dried cherry, smoked nuts, and glazed ham. For my husband, this wine was dessert enough!

But, as usual, I love to share a slice of the key lime pie. It’s always the perfect citrusy finish to a light and delicious seafood meal.

Bluewater’s key lime pie, always a favorite.

A modified version of this menu is available for the rest of the month. For $34.95 per person, the menu includes Alaskan smoked salmon cakes and freshly shucked oysters on the half shell from Washington and British Columbia with Bluewater’s signature cedar plank salmon and pan-seared Alaskan halibut. The menu also includes a Northwest wine hand-picked by one of Bluewater’s sommeliers.

Over time, I have come to find that Bluewater’s tasting menus are not worth missing, both for the quality of the food and for the amount of wine and seafood included for the price. Although a modified menu is offered for the rest of the month, no deal is as good as on that second Tuesday each month! To be informed of upcoming tastings at Bluewater, be sure to check The Coronado Times dining section for updates, or sign up on Bluewater Boathouse’s website.

Don’t miss the next tasting menu on June 13th, which is the best of the year (and I speak from experience): the New England Lobster and Clam Bake!

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Becca is a Coronado local, military spouse, mother of three, and an ICU nurse on hiatus. In Coronado, you will find her at the playground with her kids, jogging to the beach, or searching the Coronado library for another good read.

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