There are 6 varieties of wild salmon in Alaska. They are very different in taste and price. Read my list below and decide for yourself what is best for you.
“In Alaska there are no fish farms. If it says on the package that salmon is from Alaska, it means wild. But not all varieties are equal in taste and price"
1. King (Chinook), as the name implies it is the king of salmon, the best, the most expensive, the most delicious, the most nutritious.
Orange in color. Fatty. Good for everything, saute, broiling, grilling, smoking, ceviche, sushi, gravlax, caviar, broth. Most expensive.
Whole fish can weight from 10 to 70 lb, we usually catch from 15 to 25 lb
2. Jacks (Chinook) are mini Kings. Technically they are Kings, but much smaller, thats why they are called Jacks. The color is a little bit less bright orange than Kings, and they are a little bit less fatty. Jacks are good for everything as Kings.
Jacks are excellent fish, very similar in taste as real Kings, but they are much less expensive than Kings, buy them for sure, if you can get your hands on them. Jacks weight from 3 to 10 lb.
3. Red (Sockeye) are the most popular in the stores and the most abundant in the ocean.
As the name implies Red's flesh is bright red. Leanest of all salmon. The best is for gravlax, but i also use for all kinds of cooking, smoking, sushi, broth, caviar (eggs are the smallest from all other varieties).
On the market is the second by the price. Weight from 2 to 7 lb.
4. Silver (Coho), to me, silver is better than red, but it is more fragile, so it is difficult to process and preserve, that is why the price is lower than red’s, not because of quality of fish, but because it takes more time and effort to process, so the big processing plant dont want to do that. Color is orange, very similar to king’s. Less fatty than king, but more fatty than red. Good for everything like king. Since king is more difficult to get I prefer silver over any others and I highly recommend to buy silvers over the reds.
Weight from 3 to 17 lb.
5. Pink (Hump), the flesh is more pink than orange. In stores mostly found as canned, because flesh is very fragile and difficult to freeze. I like using it for fish cakes mixed with reds, because it gives softness. It’s caviar is excellent (eggs are big).
Usually weight from 2 to 5 lb.
6. Dog salmon (Chum) is pinky pale in color. Mostly used for pet food or smoking. It is excellent for smoked jerky. Caviar is the best (eggs are big).
Weight from 3 to 10 lb. Those named above are the only wild salmon from Alaska.
Here is a few marketing tricks to think about
When you see on the market saying “sustainably raised salmon” it means farmed.
“Raised” aka farmed, salmon is kept in tight cages, barely move (just like other animals in factory farms, chickens, pigs and cows), they fed corn, soy, antibiotics, hormones and all other crap.
In nature salmon is born in lakes and rivers feeding on their own parents flesh, then swims far away to the ocean, feeds on algae, krill and other little things, then they come back long ways to the rivers to spawn and sacrifice their bodies for their babies (yes, salmon dies after spawning).
Salmon in natural environment likes to swim long distances.
So “sustainable” way of raising salmon in my opinion is total non-sense.
If it says “ocean caught” it means farmed.
“Ocean caught”, OMG, isnt that a clever marketing trick?
All farms are in the ocean, dahhh, of course its ocean caught….well, more exact would be “ocean scooped”.
If its from Norway, it is farmed.
There are no wild salmon fisheries in Norway, any more.
Maybe their cages are bigger, because they are fences in between the fjords, but still very little place to swim for magnificent salmon and its fed the same crap of corn and antibiotics.
Also, they open those fjords once a year to tourist to catch this farmed salmon, people dont even realize they are catching farmed fish.
Fresh vs Frozen
If i was buying fish from the store i’d rather buy frozen, because fresh fish is very difficult to deliver fresh to the markets. Alaska is far away.
And also, think about this - fishermen go to the seas and fish long hours, if its stormy then its even longer to deliver fish to the processor; then processor has to process, even if only guild and gut, and then delivers to the stores by the plane or truck. At the store when you see fresh salmon, you wouldnt know how long its been there on display.
Most fish delivered to the stores is frozen, but the store thaws it for you. So, you would really have no idea how old this "fresh" fish is.
Frozen fish is more fresher than you think.
To thaw out it only takes a few minutes, just put the package into cold water and in 15 minutes its ready to cook.
ALL salmon from Alaska is wild.
In Alaska, by law, farms are not allowed yet, thank goodness.
Wild salmon is ALWAYS better than farmed raised. To buy straight from Alaska is the safest way. Many retailers online sell real, wild Alaskan seafoods. If it says on the package that salmon is from Alaska, it means wild.
The same applies to Halibut and Cod, if its from Alaska it is wild.
If you are in Alaska, you can buy boat fresh salmon straight form our boat. We deliver fish to Kenai 2 or 3 times a week, get connected for exact schedule. If you pre-order delivery to Anchorage is possible, depending on amount.
Do not hesitate to talk to us 907-598-9035 or 907-575-0906
And if you buy fish whole or caught it yourself, please dont throw away half of the fish! When you take only fillet it is half of the fish. The eggs, liver, skin, heads and bones are super delicious and nutritious, make broth, caviar and liver pate.