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Picking Out the Best Wild Salmon for Your Menu

Here at Samuel’s were proud to announce the start of the 2018 Wild Alaska Salmon season! After a long, hard, cold winter, the fish are finally running! Fish lovers rejoice all over the world as they get to enjoy some of the most popular fish in the sea. But, did you know there are more than one species of Wild Alaska Salmon?

That’s right – there are five species of Wild Salmon. So how do you as a consumer and chef know which one is right for you and your menu? Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered.

We consulted our most senior fishmongers, biologists, chefs, and fisherman to create an easy guide to the flavor profile of each species.

King (Chinook) – King Salmon are the largest and fattest of the Wild Salmon. This fish is prized by chefs and fisherman alike for its large size (some can grow up to 100 lbs), high fat content, and pure flavor. The semi-firm flesh has larger flakes with a full, clean flavor that is incomparable. Kings are ideal for grilling, roasting, broiling, pan searing, steaming, poaching, smoking, *ceviche, and *crudo applications.

Sockeye (Reds) –Sockeye Salmon are prized for their pronounced, full flavor and resilient red flesh that remains through the cooking process. The lean flesh boasts a firm texture and medium flake. The fillets tend to be on the thinner side, which means they cook up quickly. Paying close attention to this fish while it’s cooking is key! This fish is ideal for grilling, roasting, broiling, pan searing, steaming, poaching, and smoking.

Coho (Silvers) –  The last Salmon to reach the rivers, Coho Salmon can weigh as much as 30 lbs.  They are much lighter in color than Sockeyes, but have a rich, full bodied flavor that works well in simple preparations. Enjoy this roasted, broiled, seared, steamed, poached, smoked, or grilled.

Chum (Silverbrite, Keta) – Chum contain even less fat than Sockeye, this species is the most ideal for smoking. The flavor is quite mild for a Salmon, which is why it’s a great candidate for heavy flavors like smoke and spices. A classic preparation of this is called “candy” where the fish is cured with brown sugar, spices, and salt; then smoked. However, most of this fish is sent overseas to foreign markets. The lightly colored flesh has a medium texture and medium flake with low oil content. This fish is ideal for roasting, broiling, pan searing, steaming, poaching, and smoking.

Pink (Humpies) – Pink Salmon are the least known of the Wild Salmon species. The flesh is a muted pink to grey and aren’t very-well known for their flavor. These particular Salmon usually get canned, shipped overseas, or used as Halibut bait. They have the lowest fat content of all the Salmon, so if you’re cooking with Pink Salmon, we suggest a heavy marinade, smoking, or canning. You can also salt bake Pink Salmon whole for a flashy presentation.

As you can tell, it’s way more than just “Wild Salmon,” these summer harbingers usher in a flurry of different options for your menu, each one with its own unique flavor profile and ideal cooking method resulting in a rich diversification across the board.

If you ever need help in picking out which Salmon works best for you, simply ask your sales agent what we have available in fresh or frozen options – the possibilities are endless. Samples are also available, depending on the availability and price of the item.

Still stuck? Schedule a tour and one-on-one session with our Executive chef, Chef Anne Coll. Her culinary knowledge combined with the freshest product, handpicked, right from our warehouse will allow you to explore different options and how you can start folding in Alaska Salmon into your menu and maintain a good profit margin at the same time.

*Please refer to the FDA guidelines for consuming raw or undercooked fish