Michael Jensen; styling by Julia Dowling Rutland

Seafood lovers rejoice! Fresh wild-caught salmon is just around the river's bend.

It's official. Seven months of deprivation are coming to an endnow that the salmon season's beginning.

Every May, Alaska's twisting and rugged rivers welcome back morethan a million wild salmon from the ocean. As communities planfestivals to celebrate the event, the fish begin making their waythrough Prince William Sound, ready for their 300-mile journeyupriver through the clear, chilly rapids of the Copper River.

Salmon store extra amounts of healthy fat and oil in preparationfor this challenging trek. These oils are responsible for the richtexture and flavor of salmon's firm red flesh and offer excellentsources of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Of all wild salmon,king salmon has the highest amount of omega-3.

Ray Riutta, executive director of the AlaskaSeafood Marketing Institute, expects this year's harvest to bea good one. "The AlaskaDepartment of Fish and Game is projecting the seventh-strongestrun on record this year," he says. "This is a real testament toAlaska's successful sustainable fisheries management."

While frozen wild salmon can be purchased year-round, theabundance of fresh salmon from mid-May through early autumn meansconsumers can easily find Alaskan king, sockeye, coho, keta, andpink salmon at low prices.

Cooking salmon tonight?
Celebrate the first salmon run by preparing one of theserecipes at home. Salmon's full flavor and natural tenderness makeit perfect for grilling, baking, poaching, roasting, and evenserving as tartare.

ChinookSalmon on Alderwood with Vidalia Onion and Mustard Crust
Take advantage of salmon season and buy a whole fish. Haveyour fishmonger fillet it, or do it yourself. (Learnhow to fillet a whole salmon.) Grilling the salmon on analderwood plank enhances the essence of the fish while imparting amild smoky flavor. Plank cooking looks impressive, but takes onlyminutes to prepare. Best part―no cleanup.

Mango-glazedSalmon
Developed in the Pacific Northwest, this salmon recipe stillscreams tropics. Ginger and soy sauce in the marinade lend Asianflair. And while the ingredients may look exotic, they're easilyfound in most markets. Look for mango nectar in the fruit-juice orsoft-drink aisle, and if you can't find star anise, substitute apinch of five-spice power or ground cloves in the recipe.

Salmonand Mushroom Wellington
Serve your guests a delicious package of tender salmonsurrounded by puff pastry. A lighter alternative to the classicbeef version, this can be made ahead of time and then popped in theoven at the last minute.

Salmon-StuffedCrab Cakes
This new twist on an old favorite might change the way youlook at crab cakes forever. The addition of smoked salmon to atraditional crab cake recipe adds great depth of flavor. Make theseas an entrée or appetizers.

EasyPesto Salmon
Look to your garden for a little help. A freshbasil-and-spinach pesto brightens this dish and complements therich flavor of salmon. Go ahead and make a little extra pesto tohave on hand for pizzas and easy shrimp-and-pesto pasta.

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