Oil Content, Flavor and Texture of Different Kinds of Salmon Vary

Times Staff Writer

Question: Would you explain the different types of salmon on the market and their relative quality? I see advertisements for “Silver Brite,” “Chinook,” “Pink Salmon,” “Red Salmon” and “Silver Salmon,” among others. The prices also vary considerably.

Answer: These are the five species of Alaska salmon sold commercially. They vary in size, color and richness in oil.

Chinook, also called king, is the largest of the salmon, averaging 11 to 30 pounds in size, although it has been known to reach 125 pounds. Deep coral in color and relatively soft, it breaks into large flakes. It makes up the bulk of all salmon sold fresh, frozen or smoked. Chinook is generally marketed as fillets, steaks, roasts or whole dressed. This species begins running in the spring and is caught throughout Alaskan waters. With its rich oil content, chinook salmon is the variety generally used for smoking.


Red salmon, also known as sockeye or blueback salmon, carries a premium price. It averages about six pounds. Deep red in color and rich in oil, red salmon is primarily marketed in cans. The remainder is marketed fresh/frozen here and overseas.

Silver salmon, also referred to as coho salmon, averages four to 12 pounds. It is generally marketed fresh/frozen in steaks and fillets. The least common, it has a deep pink flesh that is lighter than the red salmon.

Pink salmon is the smallest of all salmon, averaging two to five pounds in weight. It is the most plentiful of all species. It is fine textured and ranges in color from light to deep pink. Pink salmon is also marketed in cans, but not smoked since it contains very little oil.

Silver Brite, also called chum, averages about 10 pounds. It is considered to be the least expensive since it is somewhat lighter in color, has a coarser flesh and is less flavorful. It has less oil than the other varieties. This fish is caught in August and September.

Q: Is it better to store fresh fish in the freezer if it is not to be eaten until the third day after purchase? How long can you store fish in the freezer?

A: For better quality, I would advise freezing the fish immediately rather than letting it sit in the refrigerator until the third day. Fish, however, can be stored up to two days in the refrigerator. Clean and pat dry fresh fish before storing in the refrigerator or freezer. Fish with higher oil content (such as mackerel, salmon and bluefish) tends to spoil more rapidly than lean fish. For best quality, store fish in the freezer no more than three months. Beyond that period, fish will still be safe to eat but the texture and taste start to deteriorate.


Q: Next to a copper bowl, since I don’t own one, what is the best thing to use to whip my egg whites in? What really makes copper whip egg whites better?

A: Actually, a copper bowl is most effective when you’re using an old-fashioned hand whisk but for electric mixers, whipping works as well in stainless steel, enamel or glass bowls. A copper bowl helps to stabilize egg whites during whipping. Also, when in rapid contact with a metal whisk, the copper emits an electrostatic force that helps cut down the time and energy needed to whip the egg whites.

Avoid using an aluminum bowl because it darkens the eggs, whereas plastic tends to absorb fat or grease, which can prevent whipping. Choose stainless steel in place of enamel or glass since the latter two materials have relatively slick surfaces that can make the egg whites slip down the walls of the bowl, thereby slowing down the whipping process.