I’ve recently received several emails from people wondering if I could expound a little on the difference between King and Silver salmon and maybe recommend one or the other. A brilliant mind and writer - Todd Neff, from Denver - advised that I write a blog post about this. Ever eager to expound, here I go.
Disclaimer: the following is my opinion as a fisherman and a person who has been eating salmon his entire life. It is not based on any systematic polling or nutritional science. As much as I would like to believe my personal opinions are in fact universal statements of objective validity, that might be overly optimistic. If you find my taste to be not aligned with your own, my apologies. I can’t help having such a discerning palate.
Chinook (King) Salmon – Oncorhynchus tshawytscha
It’s the best. And the biggest. And generally the most attractive. A large fish (about fifteen pounds on average) its filets and portions are large and make a substantial looking meal. It ranges in color from full pink to white and is popular among people who like steak or tuna; you know, for those times when you just want a big plate of meat. (Note that though certain Kings are white, it is not a white fish. White Kings are the result of dietary/genetic variation and are if anything even more oily and flavorful, not anything like your typical white fish.) It is a salmon for people who truly love salmon; rich and intensely flavorful it breaks into buttery flakes when well cooked. My favorite way to eat King salmon is grilled on an open flame with nothing but a little salt and pepper and perhaps a sprig of dill or a wedge of lemon for additional zest. Anything more in the way of seasoning can be a distraction from the fish itself.
Coho (Silver) Salmon – Oncorhynchus kisutch
Don’t think that because I call King salmon the best I’m saying Silvers aren’t worth eating. Quite the contrary. Silvers are a much smaller fish, last season they averaged around six pounds apiece. They are known as a milder flavored salmon variety, which makes them well suited for children and people more tentative about seafood. Personally I like them for grilling with seasonings and marinades and in other, more creative dishes. Their less intense flavor makes them perfect for combining with sauces and spices which would detract from a King salmon but which combine better and enhance the subtlety of a Silver.
I would keep Kings around for grilling or baking with little or no additional flavors when I want to enjoy the rich flavor of salmon at its best and on its own. I would also have a nice stash of Silvers to include in chowders, salads, pasta dishes, and sandwiches or when I want to have salmon marinated with other complex flavors.
I hope you found this helpful. Please feel free to email me with any questions or post to the comments section and I will do my best to get back to you as soon as possible. I will be away from land from tomorrow until the seventh of the coming month.
Important Ordering Notice, Please Read!
Also, remember that, due to limited availability this summer, we will need to receive all King salmon orderson or before July seventh.
After that we will only be taking orders for Silvers. I’m very sorry to have to place this limitation on everyone but I am simply not going to be able to provide Kings past that time.