Cooking Salmon

Cooking Salmon 5 Different Species

Depending on where you’re from, the amount you actually know about salmon can vary by a lot.  My husband and I were having dinner in Houston one night, and saw salmon
Cooking Salmon on the menu.  When he asked what kind of salmon this was (we assumed Atlantic farmed, but asked to be certain), the waiter proudly announced that it was ocean salmon.  However, in Western Washington, where he was raised and we currently live, you can be sure that we know exactly what species of salmon we are eating at every meal, and we rarely, if ever, have to ask.  The same holds true for visitors who come out to fish.  The idea of fishing in Washington, BC, or Alaska for salmon sounds great, but do you know what you’re catching, or even how many different species there are to catch? (If you don’t, there are five).  If you do, do you know which fish are best for smoking, and which are best on the grill?   If your fishing buddies consider these cooking salmon questions beneath them, don’t worry.   Here is a guide to the best ways of cooking salmon and these five different fish.

Chinook:  The king salmon is the king of the fish species.  It has a great combination of flavor and size- lots of firm, flavorful meat. These are the biggest of all the salmon, and great for fresh eating.  They are great pan fried, grilled, baked and even eaten sushi style.  They have a thick flesh that is hard to dry out, and is one of the best choices for beginners learning to like the flavor and learning to properly cook fish.

Coho:  Coho, or silver salmon, is a great choice for fresh fillets.  It is smaller than king salmon, but the flavor is mild and pleasant, and the texture is good.  In my experience, silvers hold up to freezing a bit better than other fish, and come out tasting fresher.  Firm flesh, flavorful but mild, and a great compliment to most seasonings, coho is a solid fish for fresh.

Sockeye:  These were made famous by the copper river marketers, and have a flavorful oily body.  They are harder to cook, because they dry out easily, but their oil content makes for excellent (but expensive to buy) smoked salmon.  Sockeye shouldn’t be the first salmon to give a person who doesn’t eat fish.  The fishy flavor is slightly stronger, but this is half the joy for gourmets.

Chum:  This fish is oily but a bit strong for fresh fillets.  The meat is strong and firm, and makes for some of the best smoked meat.  You won’t find much of it commercially because chum doesn’t have the brand awareness, but it’s my favorite fish to have smoked.

Pink:  The pink, or humpback salmon is the smallest of the five pacific species.  It is the main species used in pet food, and has a mushier texture than the other species.  It smokes well, especially when prepared like a jerky.  I like pink salmon in stews and soups.  It is less expensive to buy and has a strong enough flavor to stand up to competing flavors without overpowering them.

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