The point of this blog post is to give you insight on species, visual presentation, and labeling to help guide you through purchasing wild salmon locally.
First off we will get fresh salmon out of the way and then focus on frozen salmon fillets. Fresh salmon is what you will be seeing in the display counters at your local grocery stores meat/seafood section. Remember this, Wild Salmon will only be fresh while it is in season. If there is “fresh” salmon in the display case in the middle of February, that was a frozen salmon fillet that was thawed and put in the display case. That salmon should be labeled as such. During the months of May-September you will be seeing “fresh” salmon in the display cases. This is where visual presentation comes into play. Remember this salmon was caught in Alaska, delivered to processing plants, processed, shipped, brought to distribution centers, and finally delivered to the grocery stores to be displayed in their “fresh” case. So if you are a lucky consumer, you will be receiving this “fresh” salmon after 5 days out of the water. Salmon will be in the display cases for longer than that. This is where you will see the salmon begin to breakdown and look as if the flesh is ripping. This is an indicator that the fish has been out for quite some time. We recommend only purchasing “fresh” salmon that is visually appealing with the trenching and gaping as mentioned above.
On to frozen salmon! Frozen salmon is going to be much easier to deal with as a consumer and will have higher quality. Frozen salmon is harvested by the fisherman, delivered to the processing plants, processed, and immediately put into freezers bringing the fish down to -20 and flash freezing the salmon. This is a fast and incredible way to maintain the freshness and structure of the salmon for the consumer. When looking for salmon make sure you have an idea of what you are looking for. Remember salmon is high in fat content. King Salmon is the highest followed by Sockeye and Coho, which are both fairly close to each other. King Salmon will be rich and oily compared to Sockeye and Coho. These are the three species you will mainly be cooking with at home. On the other side of the spectrum we have Keta and Pink Salmon. Both are lower in fat content and therefor do not have the rich flavor of the other three species. You will see pink and keta salmon as frozen fillets, but make sure you know that you will be receiving more of a mild taste and flavor. Many people prefer this, so make sure you know what you are looking for! Make sure you look at the label and ask questions. Frozen seafood has a label with a shelf life of 2 years. I recommend not buying something over a year old. This is all in the label! We have also included a video below to show you how a fillet should look. This will help you sort through salmon fillets that most likely will lead to a lower quality.