What is the difference between chum, sockeye, king and coho salmon?

Cedar-Plank Salmonenlarge
Cedar is the most common choice when planking salmon. The simple combination of sweet brown sugar, dried thyme leaves, and cayenne pepper in this rub only heightens that perfect rustic flavor. Recipe: Cedar-Plank Salmon

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If you have a cooking question, our expert, Marge Perry, can answer it. Marge teaches home cooks in her classes at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. She is an award-winning food writer, longtime contributor for Cooking Light and a number of other leading food magazines, author of the blog A Sweet and Savory Life, columnist for Newsday, and has contributed to over 20 cookbooks.

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This is wild salmon season: salmon are fished in Alaska and the Pacific coast from May to August.

The season usually opens with King salmon (also known as Chinook). As the name implies, it is the largest of the pacific salmon species (typically 11-18 pounds) and has the highest oil and healthy omega-3 content. It is prized for its buttery flavor and texture. It has a very short and limited season and is the most expensive species.

Sockeyesalmon, which is more abundant, is flavorful with a deep, bright red-orange and also has a high fat and omega-3 content. Most of the sockeye we get comes from Alaskan waters, where they are managed in a sustainable way. Sockeye is the wild salmon most of us can get in the grocery store for a limited time. According to the government agency Fishwatch, the harvest on the Copper River in Alaska this year is over 1 million. Click hereto read more about sockeye and Copper River Salmon.

Cohosalmon appears late in the season—usually from August to September. It is milder than King and sockeye salmon. It is sometimes called silver salmon—but don't confuse that with Silverbrite, which is a trade name for Chum salmon.

Chumsalmon are lower in oil than other Pacific salmon, and can vary greatly in quality. They are relatively abundant and are often used for canned salmon.

Pink (humpback)salmon are the most abundant of the species. They are small (2-3 pounds), have lighter colored flesh and milder flavor and are lower in fat than the other types of salmon. These are often sold canned or smoked.

For more information on cooking with salmon, see 7 Ways with Salmonand Superfood: Salmon.

Recipe: Cedar-Plank Salmon

Marge Perry
Jul, 2012
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