From its life cycle to its bright pink color, salmon is a unique fish. If you’re new to cooking seafood, you may believe there are one or two main varieties that are more or less interchangeable. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
There are multiple varieties of salmon available for purchase. Pacific, Atlantic, farm-raised, wild-caught, sockeye, silver—how do you choose? Check out this quick guide to the best types of salmon available and get to cooking!
Fishermen up and down the Pacific chase after the mighty sockeye salmon. It is sought after for its rich, flavorful meat, dark red in color and oily to boot. Sockeye is high in omega-3 fatty acids and tastes delicious either caught fresh or eaten from the can.
Try baking your sockeye salmon in aluminum foil and serve with plenty of garlic butter and lemon juice.
Coho (Silver) Salmon
If you’re not quite adventurous enough for the bold, fishy taste of sockeye, coho salmon might be the choice for you. It’s much milder in flavor and is a great gateway fish for salmon novices or picky eaters. Its flesh is a more orange-red color, with a firmer texture that’s perfect for grilling.
Grill a few fillets of coho salmon and season them simply with kosher salt and black pepper. Serve with flavorful, herb-rich sauces.
If you want to create a show-stopping centerpiece out of your salmon dinner, go for the king, or chinook, salmon. Bold and buttery all at once, it’s the most famous variety of salmon on the market. For a particularly fresh taste, buy your king salmon from Alaska if possible. Alaskan fishermen catch salmon from the wild instead of farming them.
King salmon cooks well in the oven, on the grill, or in a pan. Cut it into fillets and change things up with different marinades, sauces, and sides.
Feeling creative? Pink salmon is found not only in fillets but in cans and patties as well. It’s the smallest of the main varieties of salmon, but it’s remarkably versatile and rich in antioxidants.
Try grilling burger patties made of pink salmon. You can also eat it directly out of the can for a quick, protein-rich snack!
While the above varieties of salmon are largely found and caught wild in the Pacific, the Atlantic Ocean also has its own species of salmon: Salmo salar. They are raised in farms all year long, and fisheries in the Northeast are always improving their sustainability practices.
Atlantic salmon boasts an oily, rich texture perfect for baking, searing, or grilling. Try tossing it on a sheet pan with plenty of herbs and olive oil.
Whether you’re a seafood expert or a total novice, this quick guide to the best varieties of salmon will point you in the right direction as you shop. Choose a fish with a taste and texture that speak most to your preferences, and get creative as you cook!