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All About Salmon Which Salmon Is Best

Updated on February 4, 2017

The Species

Salmon is the common name for several species of fish in the family Salmonidae. Some fish in the same family are called trout; the difference is difficult to pin down: “Scientifically there has been some renaming and reclassifying going on that has blurred the distinction between the names salmon and trout

Salmon live along the coasts of both the Pacific Ocean and the North Atlantic and have even been introduced into the Great Lakes. Salmon are intensively produced in aquaculture in many parts of the world.

Salmon quality is usually judged by the oil content of the fish (which contributes to the flavor), and the redness of the meat.

The color of a salmon's or a trout's flesh depends on its food supply. A pigment called astaxanthin, found in many crustaceans, colors the flesh of salmon and trout that eat them.

If you’ve never had salmon and you don’t like fishy tasting fish, break open the piggy bank and try Wild King Salmon first, cook it simply and undercook it a bit. If this doesn’t please you you’d never be satisfied with the other salmons.

Genetically Engineered Food: A Self-Defense Guide

Health Benefits Of Salmon

Salmon flesh is rich with oils that contain Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega-3's are required in the diet, and are touted as having great health promoting properties. Canned salmon often contains the softened bones of the fish so canned salmon is a great source of natural calcium. The pressure cooking process renders the bones soft and edible, and easy for the human body to absorb. Salmon is a also a rich source of B vitamins and high quality protein.

Genetically Engineered Salmon
The safety of genetically engineered salmon is questionable and should be avoided. GE salmon is a farm-raised salmon modified so that it can eat year round and fatten up faster.

According to Food Safety News:

House and Senate lawmakers each sent separate letters to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg urging the agency to not approve the fast-growing GE fish, primarily over economic and environmental concerns. The House approved an amendment by Congressman Don Young (R-AK) and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) last month that would bar the FDA from spending money to approve an application for the controversial salmon.

Superfish: DNA-Altered Salmon Coming to Your Dinner Plate?

Chinook and Ivory King Salmon

Male Freshwater Phase Chinook
Male Freshwater Phase Chinook

Starting With the Best


Oncorhynchus tshawytscha
The other names for King salmon tyee salmon, Columbia River salmon, black salmon, chub salmon, hook bill salmon, winter salmon, Spring Salmon, Quinnat Salmon and blackmouth.

This is top of the line in salmon, deep, rich red color and full flavor, the largest of the five Pacific salmon species. This fish is the best the industry has to offer, but only accounts for 1 percent of the harvest. If you are able to locate some wild Red King salmon and even afford the price, try it, this is so far superior to any other salmon that you won’t regret the cost. Cook this salmon to a medium rare for a silky smooth flesh with the flavor of the sea and the crustaceans it feeds on. I could never recommend smoking this fish, the texture and flavor needs to be enjoyed as close to natural as possible. An even rarer variety of King Salmon is the Ivory or White King Salmon, Ivories account for about 1% of the King Salmon population so this is a very rare fish indeed and prices reflect this. At a time when Red King fillets could be for $18.00 per pound Ivory fillets were bringing in $35.00 per pound. The cause of the white flesh is uncertain but thought to be genetic because they are caught within the same population of fish that yields the red variety. Red or Ivory, this is the kind of fish you savor for itself, put away the herbs and spices, grill to a medium rare with nothing more than salt and pepper and a bit of olive oil or butter for grilling, then if you feel compelled to make a sauce, make something in a saucepan without drowning the salmon. This way the sauce can be enjoyed beside the fish instead of concealing it. A Beurre Blanc or Bearnaise come to mind

Man fight bear for salmon, commercial

Sockeye Ocean phase
Sockeye Ocean phase
Sockeye Freshwater phase
Sockeye Freshwater phase
Pink Spawning
Pink Spawning

Sockeye and Pink Salmon

Oncorhynchus nerka

Sockeyes are also called reds because males turn a brilliant red color when spawning.

Next to wild King salmon this is top of the line, deep, rich red color and full flavor. It does tend to vary in quality depending on where it was caught. Inland the fish is getting ready to spawn and is living off its body fat yielding a fish of lesser quality than those caught off shore. Sockeye account for 25 to 30 percent of Alaska's commercial salmon harvest.


Oncorhynchus gorbuscha

A pale coral color, fine texture, low fat content and mild flavor. Its size is often smaller than other species of salmon. Humpies develop a hump on the back when they spawn, thus the name. Pink salmon is the least expensive salmon due to the quantities being caught, this is the main fish for the Alaskan fishing industry. Excellent smoked.

Salmon Hatchery

Salmon Hatchery Prince Williams Sound with Booms to exclude an oil spill
Salmon Hatchery Prince Williams Sound with Booms to exclude an oil spill

Coho and Chum


Oncorhynchus kisutch

Another pink fleshed salmon. It is the primary catch of the Alaska trawler. Sold whole in seafood markets, as well as smoked or canned. Coho amount to about 5 percent of the total salmon harvest.

Oncorhynchus keta
Also known as Keta salmon, and is may be marketed as Silverbrite salmon, called Dog Salmon due to the large teeth this fish grows during the spawn.The flesh of Chum salmon is pale, yellowish compared to other salmon so you wouldn't recognize them as salmon on a shelf even so they are plentiful in markets around the country. Chum has the lowest amount of oil and less flavor of all of the salmons. At one time this fish was ignored by professional fishers because of its low commercial value but the market is increasing and commercial hatcheries ensure high production. The Chum harvest in 2008 was worth 60 million dollars. Because of the hatcheries this fish is abundant.

Atlantic Salmon Norway
Atlantic Salmon Norway

Salmon Saute

Atlantic Salmon

Salmo salar,

Atlantic salmon is also known as: Grilse, Grilt, or Fiddler; fresh water salmon are called landlocked salmon, Ouananiche and Grayling: Black salmon, Slink, Kelt (all for post-spawning fish); Kennebec salmon, and Sebago salmon. Atlantic salmon are native to the rivers of New England and the Atlantic countries of Europe as far south as Portugal. Pale to dark pink or reddish pink flesh with a high fat content, The range of Atlantic salmon used to extend all the way from the rivers of Ungava Bay, Canada, to Long Island Sound. Human development has destroyed almost all of the native runs. The only natural and self supporting runs of Atlantic salmon left in the US are in Maine. Some work is being done to attempt the restoration and rehabilitation of Atlantic salmon, by stocking the fish and building fish passages, in the Connecticut, and eastern Maine rivers of New England. Wild Atlantic salmon is a protected species in most of the North Atlantic countries but it is plentiful in stores from farms. It is estimated that 98 per cent of the 300 million Atlantic salmon in the world are farmed fish.


Salmon trout is a widespread member of the salmon family that is found in many different varieties. We distinguish sea trout, from brown trout even though they are two forms of the same fish as well as lake trout and rainbow trout. Trout tends to be mildly flavored with little of the wild salmon flavor since it is mostly farm raised, but trout caught in the brooks and streams of New England may have spent enough time on a wild diet to have a wild salmon flavor and pink flesh.


(Is the sea running form of Brown Trout )

Salmo trutta


Salmo trutta


Oncorhynchus mykiss

Native to western North America and northeast Asia, the rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) has been transplanted around the world. Wild rainbow trout in fresh water eat a mixture of insects and small crustaceans, which gives the meat a light pink color.


(Is the sea running form of rainbow trout)

Salmon Bonne Femme Recipe

This is a classic dish, delicious but definitely not diet food!

Serves 4

4 6 to 8-ounce boned and skinned salmon fillets (or Steaks)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons chopped shallots
1 cup sliced mushrooms
3 teaspoons flour
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
To Taste Salt and White Pepper
2 Egg yolks Beaten (eggs at room temperature)

Remove bones and skin from salmon, run your fingers over the fillet to find any pin-bones and remove these with a pliers or a strawberry huller.
Wash the salmon fillets or steaks in cold water.
Pat salmon dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
Heat the oil in a sauté pan to medium high.
Brown the salmon for about 4 minutes on each side. Adjust the heat and time up or down according to the thickness of the fish, the fish should be just barely done.
Transfer salmon to a platter. Keep warm.
Add the butter to the pan and heat to melt.
Sprinkle the chopped shallots and mushrooms in the frying pan and cook over low heat until soft, maybe five minutes.
Stir in the flour and cook another minute or two, stirring all the while.
Stir in the white wine and blend well to eliminate any lumps in the flour.
Reduce the wine by half.
Stir in the heavy cream slowly blending well to remove lumps before proceeding, bring to a bare simmer and cook for 5 minutes, it should not boil.
Remove from the heat and beat very small amounts into the already beaten eggs (This is called tempering the eggs and it prevents the eggs from scrambling)
Add the tempered eggs to the rest of the sauce and blend well.
IT SHOULD NOT need any further cooking at this point. If you cook it now the eggs will scramble and spoil the texture of the sauce
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
If needed strain the sauce through a fine strainer into a saucepan. Keep sauce warm and serve beside the salmon.

Note an alternate way of making this recipe is to make Hollandaise sauce, and fold that into the white sauce instead of the eggs.

Note on food safety if the sauce reaches 165 degrees for 15 seconds the eggs are completely safe to eat, use a pocket thermometer to check.


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    • chefsref profile imageAUTHOR

      Lee Raynor 

      4 years ago from Citra Florida

      Thanx AC

      I suspect any salmon caught fresh and eaten in Alaska would be better than what we get in the lower 48

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      IMO the Silver/Coho salmon was much better tasting than Pink. Probably because when I've been to Alaska we always caught the Coho salmon out in the ocean and the pinks were out of the Kenai River when they were spawning, so the Cohos were obviously fresher. I haven't been in Alaska when the Coho salmon were spawning though. Also, all the Alaskans I talked to while there had pinks ranked 4th in taste behind Chinook, Sockeye, and Coho too.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      The price of white King salmon reflects the recent huge rise in demand more than rarity. Until recently it went for less than regular Kings.

    • chefsref profile imageAUTHOR

      Lee Raynor 

      4 years ago from Citra Florida

      Thanx for stopping by Akriti

    • Akriti Mattu profile image

      Akriti Mattu 

      4 years ago from Shimla, India

      So informative.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I think it should be mentioned that within the Chinooks the spring salmon or springers are the best tasting. Also around here in the Wild Rivers Oregon/Nor. California area the locals insist the Indian tribes have the best salmon. I'm assuming its due to there rights on the rivers allowing them to fish the salmon first before the public.

    • chefsref profile imageAUTHOR

      Lee Raynor 

      5 years ago from Citra Florida

      Thanx Merrci

      The quality of salmon runs from awful to sublime but I bet you have much better choices in Oregon than I see locally

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 

      5 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      Interesting to read about the varieties. There are so many different ones. It's my favorite fish, one we try to fix once or twice a week. Nice to see it receive proper attention!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Salmon oil dosage for dog is 1000 mg of oil per day per 30 pounds of body weight.

    • chefsref profile imageAUTHOR

      Lee Raynor 

      5 years ago from Citra Florida

      Thanx James

      So, what about dosages and how do you use it?

    • profile image

      James Miller 

      5 years ago

      Hello,I recommend salmon fish oil , as I have used this from last 1 year for my dog. It works quickly and prevent the dog from skin allergies and joint problems. I’ve also tried krill oil and this is also the best option.

    • profile image


      5 years ago


    • chefsref profile imageAUTHOR

      Lee Raynor 

      6 years ago from Citra Florida

      Thanx Sean, I will confirm and edit

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Just so you know, the genus for Brown Trout is not Onchorynchus, but rather Salmo (same goes for Sea Trout, which is the same species). The proper name would be Salmo trutta. Also, while you got the genus name for Rainbow Trout right (Onchorynchus), you got the species wrong. Rainbow Trout are Onchorynchus mykiss, rather than irideus, which is the former name that has since been changed to mykiss.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      We now get Alaskan Salmon in our supermarkets in Britain Sockeye and Coho. I think people might buy it because it is wild and they'll think that's therefore environmentally friendly even though it has been flown or containered thousands of miles, but I don't think the quality is as good as Atlantic Salmon. It's less oily, has smaller flakes and the taste is less subtle. Just my opinion.

    • chefsref profile imageAUTHOR

      Lee Raynor 

      7 years ago from Citra Florida

      Thanx Greeneryday

      Yes! But I have a love hate thing with salmon, the best is incredible but the worst is inedible, definitely worth the extra money to buy the best

    • greeneryday profile image


      7 years ago from Some tropical country

      I love eating fresh raw salmon as in sashimi, they taste just simply amazing... however I also do eat baked salmon and taste as good as the raw ones. Anyway thank you for writing such an informative hub, well done! Voted up and more!

    • chefsref profile imageAUTHOR

      Lee Raynor 

      8 years ago from Citra Florida

      Thanx Mimi, I agree with your husband, the best salmon is sublime

    • Mimi721wis profile image


      8 years ago

      Voted up and very useful. My husband loves salmon.


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