What makes an Ivory King an Ivory? This Article in the Alaska News Miner explains it all. If you’re not in the mood to click, here’s the crux of the matter from Terry Thompson's piece:
These pigments, called carotenoids, are found in their diet of shrimp, krill, and crabs — crustaceans that are rich in astaxanthin, a carotenoid found in most marine life. Good analogies would be the orange beta-carotene found in carrots or the bright red carotene lycopene found in tomatoes.
White-fleshed king salmon don’t have the genetic ability to break down their food and store the red-orange carotene in their muscle cells. The marbled flesh color sometimes found in king salmon comes from their limited ability to metabolize carotene, causing the flesh to take on a marbled look. Often, this marbled flesh is more reddish toward the spine and whiter near the belly.
The trait that keeps these fish from taking on the red pigment is passed on or inherited from the adult spawners to their offspring. The ability to metabolize carotenoids is a dominate trait; therefore the majority of king salmon have red flesh.
Essentially, all white kings come from the rivers and streams from the Fraser River in British Columbia, north to the Chilkat River in Southeast Alaska. Biologists with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game estimate that, overall, approximately 5 percent of the king population in this region carry the recessive trait that produces the white flesh."
If you happen to see Ivory King Salmon on the menu or for sale at your favorite fish market - be sure to give it a try. We feel like it has a different, more mild flavor than it’s redder counterparts. Even if you can’t taste a difference, let your eyes feast on that pearly white flesh.