Earlier this month, I was invited with a group of influencers to the SeaBear Wild Salmon smokehouse in Anacortes, Washington. I’ll admit that I’ve been a fan of SeaBear for years and purchase their products frequently for my friends and family (especially those from Hawaii). I’ll also admit that I knew only a fraction of the company’s history and welcomed the opportunity to learn more with my friends @nelson_eats, @findmeinseattle, and @obaliciouspnw!
When we arrived, we browsed the retail store and learned about the history of the company. SeaBear has been in business since 1957 and we met Mike Mondello, President and CEO of the company. He gave us highlights of the company history which is really easy to follow on a timeline painted on the wall. They also have a video for customers to watch.
In 1957, fisherman Tom Savidge built a backyard smokehouse and began selling wild smoked salmon to local taverns. The demand was great and businesses asked Tom to preserve the salmon for longer. Tom invented The Gold Seal pouch, a patented technique which preserves the salmon naturally without refrigeration. Moving forward, it was possible for travelers to take Tom’s salmon with them or to send it to friends and family.
Looking around the retail store, I had a sense of familiarity. SeaBear’s sister company is Made In Washington, a store dedicated to local gifts. One of the products they carry is the iconic SeaBear Northwest smoked salmon gift boxes, which is one of my favorite things to buy for my family. They also sell gourmet food, pottery, art, and crafts from all over the state!
After our retail tour, we moved throughout the facility viewing the kitchen, smokehouse, and packaging facility. Before we could go anywhere, we had to suit up! We each put on special clothes, hairnets, and even shoe covers to ensure that we complied with the high standards of cleanliness SeaBear has. For video coverage of us in our gear, check out my IGTV video.
We entered a room with workers prepping cold smoked salmon. They had an amazing machine that sliced the salmon perfectly for lox! After that was done, it was transferred to another station where it was packaged into The Gold Pouch.
Our next stop was the smokehouse and let me tell you, it smelled fantastic! We saw the salmon in the smokers and drying on racks. What a beautiful sight! The smoking is done with a proprietary blend of hardwoods and fruitwoods. Whatever they’re doing, it’s working because the salmon is delicious!
Next, we saw the fish being processed. One of the workers slowed down so we could get pictures and video. We were awed by his knife skills!
We ended the tour at the packaging area. SeaBear employs over 100 workers in Anacortes (not counting seasonal workers). Workers were busy getting packages ready to ship. They’re ramping up for the holiday season so don’t forget to get your orders in early!
Now it was time to eat! We got a preview of The Smokehouse Salmon Flight, an experience that will be sold at the Pike Place Market location of Made In Washington starting on November 2nd for their grand re-opening. The flight consists of: lox, traditional Northwest garlic salmon, smoked scallop, smoked halibut mousse, and the smokehouse slider. Each bite was delicious and well done. The traditional garlic salmon was my favorite preparation of fish! It was moist flaky, smoky, and garlicky. That being said, the smoked scallop is a unique experience and I could have eaten and entire bag of those if they let me! The scallop was delicate, firm, and held the smoke flavor so well it was mind blowing!
Here’s a rundown of the flight:
- Lox (smoked salmon): This one is cured and smoked at low heat, a process called “cold smoked.” It’s thinly sliced with a silky, smooth texture. We sampled this straight off the line!
- Traditional Northwest (smoked salmon): This fully cooked salmon is prepared using a traditional Northwest method or “hot smoked,” as Native people have done for hundreds of years.
- Smoked Scallop (Northwest style): I can imagine carrying around a bag of these – ALWAYS! Diver-caught Weathervane scallops from Alaska are smoked and the scallop holds the flavor perfectly!
- Smoked Halibut Mousse (specialty smoked halibut): The light flavor of the snow-white halibut from Alaska is mixed with cream cheese and herbs for a lovely mousse that can be served hot or cold.
- The Smokehouse Slider (smoked salmon sandwich): This dish combines SeaBear Pacific Northwest salmon, AJ’s Walla Walla sweet onion mustard, and Mama Lil’s Pickled Hungarian Goathorn Peppers. The ingredients are mixed and served on an Essential Baking Company bun. I’m glad they served half a sandwich because believe it or not, I was getting full. For $5, this is going to be a hit at the Made in Washington store!!!
As we parted ways, we received a gift box that will be sold at Pike Place Market starting on November 2nd. It contains everything you need to make The Smokehouse Slider from the Flight! This is a great item for tourists and locals alike. When I’m traveling, I always like to keep a few simple snacks around my hotel. This would be perfect! It is also great for locals that want to make an easy lunch, snack, or appetizers for a party.
Be on the lookout for the Pike Place Market Made in Washington store to re-open to the public on November 2nd after a makeover for a weekend-long Grand Opening! They’ll be adding dozens of new, local food and beverage products. If you drooled over The Smokehouse Salmon Flight in this post, you’ll be able to get it for FREE during the Grand Opening weekend! The principles behind SeaBear are simple: Make great food people love, and always listen to their customers. They stand behind everything they do with an unconditional Fisherman’s Oath guarantee. Thank you SeaBear for sharing your story!