The 5 species
Alaska is the last bastion of the wild salmon and in its waters live the largest and healthiest populations of wild salmon on the planet. The name Alaska Wild Salmon groups together five species which spawn in the crystalline Alaskan rivers and spend their adult life in the waters of the North Pacific Ocean. Alaskan salmon, like those of the Atlantic, are anadromous: they are born and live the first stage of their lives in fresh water and then migrate to salt water, returning to the river where they were born to spawn and die. In contrast to the Atlantic Ocean, where there is only one species of salmon (salmo salar), in the North Pacific there are seven salmon species, five of which are fished commercially in Alaska. They belong to the genus Oncorhynchus, a term combining two Greek words: “onco”, which means hook or chin and “rhyno”, which means nose. The scientific names of the five Alaskan salmon species were established during the exploration of Siberia and are linked to the common names by which these fish were known in the native language.
The salmone reale is the largest species in Alaska.
- · Average weight: 8-9 Kg.
- Commercial range of weights: 2-18 Kg.
The succulent flavor of King salmon meat and its spectacular size have opened the doors for it in the most select restaurants.
King Salmon is appreciated by smokers and chefs for its size (which allows some spectacular presentations) and its flavorsome flesh (it is the wild salmon with the highest fat content).
King salmonhas a longer fishing season than the other species and for this reason can be obtained fresh for nine or ten months a year. King salmon is marketed fresh, smoked and frozen, whole and in fillets.
Alaska Red or Sockeye Salmon
Sockeye Salmon is medium-sized and has a more slender form than the other species.
- Average weight: 2,7 Kg.
- Commercial range of weights: 1,8 – 4,5 Kg.
Sockeye Salmon is famous for the color of its flesh -a deep red, firmer than that of the other species. Very much appreciated by smokers, Sockeye Salmon produces a cold-smoked (lox) product of exceptional color, texture and flavor. Ideal for raw fish preparations, Sockeye Salmon lends itself to minimal cooking methods which seal in the juices.
Alaska Silver or Coho Salmon
Coho Salmonis the Alaskan salmon closest in appearance to the Atlantic salmo salar.
- Average weight: 4,5 Kg.
- Commercial range of weights: 2 – 8 Kg.
Coho Salmon is the most popular of the wild salmon among smokers in Europe. Its medium size and good flesh color also make it popular with restaurateurs.
Alaska Keta or Chum Salmon
Chum Salmon is an intermediate size between Coho Salmon and Sockeye Salmon.
- Average weight: 3,6 Kg.
- Commercial range of weights: 1 – 5,5 Kg.
Chum Salmon combines a firm texture and fine flavor at a moderate price. Chum Salmon produce the largest salmon caviar (Japanese ikura) and the most appreciated in the market. The flesh of the Chum contains only 4-5% fat, and the color of the meat shows more variation than the other species. This translates into a very competitive price, approximately the same as for farmed salmon, and offers exceptional value for the cook who appreciates intrinsic quality over appearances. Chum Salmon lends itself to tartare preparations, marinades and minimal cooking methods which seal in the juices.
The Pink Salmon is the smallest and most abundant species in Alaska.
- Average weight: 1,5 Kg
- Commercial range of weights: 0,9 – 2,7 Kg.
It is typified by the pink color of the flesh and its fine, tender texture. Like a good-sized trout, Pink Salmon are easy to cook whole or filleted. Pink Salmon, abundant and economical, are generally sold whole (with or without head) or filleted ready for use in institutional cooking.