Top 2 most
famous Alaskan foods

How gourmets order them

Alaska cruise tips you can trust

 

Alaska's two best
and most celebrated
food specialties

 

Salmon

Alaska King Crab

How to
order salmon
in a restaurant
like a gourmet

Wild vs farm

Make sure that the salmon was caught in the wild rather than having been raised on a fish farm. The flesh of the latter tends to have a detectable muddy flavor - and some diners object to the chemical additives in its feed.

Fresh vs frozen

Verify that the salmon has never been frozen. Freezing breaks down the flesh's cellular structure. This results in a mushy texture when the fish is cooked.

How the
salmon species differ

Know the difference among Alaska's five salmon species. I list them in order of culinary desirability so you'll know what to look for on a menu. If the menu does not specify sufficient identifying details, ask your waiter to ask the chef.

King (also named Chinook)

It has the richest flavor, firmest texture, and most inviting red-flesh color of the five species. Its fat content is high. Those qualities plus the Chinook's limited supply make it the most expensive salmon on the market.

Red (Sockeye)

This is a close runner-up to the king salmon, which it somewhat resembles in flesh flavor, texture, color and fat content. The sockeye is nicknamed "red" because its skin turns that color during spawning.

Silver (Coho)

This salmon species is a step down in quality from the previous two species. Like them, it's flavorful (though milder), well-textured, and high in fat content. The biggest difference is it has an unappealing orange-red flesh color

Pink (Humpy)

Pink refers to its pale red flesh hue. The taste is too mild for salmon connoisseurs. The fish gained the "humpy" nickname because the male's back develops a hump when spawning.

Chum (Dog)

The Alaskan chum is on the bottom of the culinary totem pole in terms of taste, texture, color, and cooking properties.

Test for doneness

A properly cooked salmon should flake when you apply pressure to the flesh with a fork. If the flesh hasn't reached the flaky state, the fish is undercooked. If the flesh is mushy textured, the fish is overcooked.

How to order
Alaska king crab
in a restaurant
like a gourmet

Ordering

Opt for the Red King Crab - it's by far the finest tasting of Alaska's various species. The runner-up is the Blue King Crab.

Cold vs hot

You eat just the leg meat. This slightly sweet delicacy can be served cold, but is best when hot.

Seasons

Sorry, you will probably have to order Alaskan King Crab legs that had previously been frozen-and-thawed. Finding fresh ones is difficult for visitors because while the Alaska cruise season runs from May to September (the tourist season), the King Crab fishing season stretches from October to January.

Judging cooking quality

Send the crab legs back to the chef if the meat is dryish and somewhat rubbery, which suggests overcooking. The white flesh should be tender and moist, but not watery.

Best cruise ships by category
Best 4 Alaska cruise ports to visit
Best shore excursions - overview
Helicopter tours
Floatplane tours
Best 3 Juneau shore excursions
Best 3 Ketchikan shore excursions
Best 3 Sitka shore excursions
Best 3 Skagway shore excursions
Denali National Park
Goldstar Dome railroad ride
More pre- and post-cruise options