There are many different types of salmon out there, with seven of the most common being King Salmon, Coho Salmon, Chinook Salmon, Sockeye Salmon, Chum Salmon, Pink Salmon, and Atlantic Salmon. Each variety has its own distinct flavor profile as well as its own unique preparation methods that can make for some truly delicious food if you know what you’re doing when it comes to cooking these fish.
Salmons are fish belonging to the family Salmonidae, the second-largest family of vertebrates after the Perciformes (perch-like fishes). They are mostly freshwater fish, mostly inhabiting shallow rivers and lakes, with a few species living in the ocean (e.g., the Atlantic salmon).
Salmon has become popular in recent years, but with so many different types to choose from, how do you know which types of salmon you should buy?
Their evolution dates back to around five million years ago and they have both freshwater and marine environments to explore with their lifespans ranging from three years to 30 years old!
Check out this list of 7 different types of salmon and learn more about what makes each of the types of salmon unique and how they taste and feel different from one another.
Where do salmon come from
Various types of salmon inhabit tributaries of the North Atlantic (genus Salmo) and Pacific Oceans (genus Oncorhynchus). Salmon are found in non-native habitats such as the Great Lakes of America and Patagonia in South America. Many salmon species are intensively farmed around the world.
How to choose your types of salmon
There are three main categories you should consider when buying salmon: wild vs. farmed; fresh vs. frozen; and Atlantic vs. Pacific or other species. Here’s a breakdown of each:
Farmed vs wild salmon
Many people think that farmed salmon is better for you than wild-caught salmon. But, in reality, there are many benefits to eating wild salmon. One of those reasons being that wild salmon has a higher omega-3 content than farmed salmon.
Fresh wild-caught salmon
This fish comes straight from a lake or river, right to your plate! Wild salmon tastes better than farm-raised and is less likely to contain harmful contaminants like heavy metals. That’s because they eat a more natural diet in open waters and have less exposure to chemicals. Wild salmon is also more sustainable than farmed fish, which requires commercial operations that can harm marine life if not well-managed.
Farmed salmon, on the other hand, are fed an unnatural diet of pellets made with fish meal—which can make them higher in fat and lower in beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than their wild counterparts. Because it’s so rich in these healthy fats, you should try to incorporate wild salmon into your weekly meal plan as often as possible!
Fresh vs. frozen salmon
Frozen wild-caught salmon has been flash-frozen at sea as soon as it’s caught—it’s a great option if you don’t have access to fresh fish in your area! It should be labeled frozen at sea and is often less expensive than fresh. But make sure to read labels carefully and choose brands that are sustainably sourced. Also, note that there are different types of freezing methods; some preserve more nutrients than others. Make sure you do your research before buying!
Atlantic vs. Pacific salmon
Many people confuse Atlantic salmon and Pacific salmon, but they’re actually two very different fish. While Pacific salmon live in both fresh and saltwater, Atlantic salmon live exclusively in saltwater (with some exceptions). This is why Pacific salmon tastes a bit salty while Atlantic fish has little flavor. In terms of health benefits, Pacific salmon, also called the Alaskan salmon, is known to be higher in protein and lower in fat than its Atlantic counterparts.
Because it’s so rich in omega-3 fatty acids, Alaskan salmon can help prevent heart disease and reduce inflammation. The average fillet contains roughly 450 milligrams of omega-3s per serving. On top of that, it’s also high in B vitamins and selenium, which help support your immune system.
A three-ounce serving of cooked Alaskan salmon has about 1,000 IU of vitamin D—which may help protect against cancer and osteoporosis. What’s more? It’s low in mercury—making it safe for pregnant women to eat as well!
7 Different Types Of Salmon
So, what are types of salmon? If you’re one of those people who thinks there is only one type of salmon, then you’re wrong. There are various types of salmon fish that can be categorized based on their appearance, taste, and habitat. Salmon has been used for a long time by many people as a healthy alternative to other food products. It can be used in different ways depending on your region and also preparation methods.
Listed below are the 7 common types of salmon you should know:
King salmon/Chinook salmon (Walbaum, 1792)
The scientific name of the Chinook salmon is Oncorhynchus tshawytscha. They can grow to a maximum length of 59 inches (150 cm), although they are more common at around 28 inches (70 cm), and weigh around 61.4 kg (135 pounds).
They are a type of pacific salmon from the genus Oncorhynchus and their maximum lifespan is 13 years.
Also known as the king salmon, blackmouth salmon and Tyee salmon, these are huge and delicious fish. They spend their summers in cool streams, rivers, and lakes before migrating to the ocean for two or three years to fatten up.
Chinooks are a significant source of food for people all over Alaska; when not eaten fresh, they’re canned or made into jerky. These fish have oily flesh with a strong flavor, making them ideal for smoking or grilling. King salmon is also popular among anglers who catch it with fishing rods rather than nets—it’s said to be one of the strongest fighting species out there. In short: you don’t want to mess with these guys!
Sockeye salmon/red salmon (Walbaum, 1792)
The scientific name of the Sockeye salmon is Oncorhynchus nerka. They can grow up to a maximum size of 33 inches (84 cm) in length, although they are commonly seen at a size around 20 inches (50 cm), and weigh up to 7.7 kg (17 pounds).
They have a maximum lifespan of 8 years.
This pacific salmon from the genus Oncorhynchus is mainly fished in Alaska, and it has a red flesh with a white grainy texture. Sockeye salmon is an excellent source of iron, calcium, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. It’s also one of nature’s richest sources of astaxanthin, which is an antioxidant that gives fish its pinkish hue and contributes to heart health. Cooked sockeye salmon can be prepared in a variety of ways, but is best pan-fried or broiled.
Pink Salmon/Humpies/Humpback Salmon (Walbaum, 1792)
The scientific name of the pink salmon is Oncorhynchus gorbuscha. They grow to a maximum length of 30 inches (76 cm) in length but they are more commonly seen at a length of around 20 inches (50 cm) and weigh up to 6.8 kg (15 pounds).
Their maximum lifespan is just 3 years.
The Humpies are a smaller salmon type, which doesn’t have any spots on their bodies. They can be identified from other salmon due to their protruding forehead (hump). These fish are rich in omega-3 acids and low in mercury, making them a good choice for pregnant women.
Pink salmon are born in freshwater rivers and migrate to saltwater as adults; they don’t have any red or pink coloring on their bodies. These fish are also high in omega-3s and low in mercury. They live in all of Alaska’s seas and oceans.
Alaska fishermen catch these fish year-round, but most fishing occurs between April and September. Many of these fish head directly to China when they reach market size. This is why it is very important that you check where your seafood comes from if you plan on buying it at a grocery store or restaurant.
Silverbrite Salmon/Chum Salmon/Dog Salmon ((Walbaum, 1792)
The scientific name of the Chum salmon is Oncorhynchus keta. They grow to a maximum length of 39 inches (100 cm) in length, their common size is 23 inches (58 cm) in length, and weigh up to 15.9 kg (35 pounds).
They have a maximum lifespan of around 7 years.
A river fish, chum salmon are one of two species (the other being sockeye) that spawn in saltwater. They’re also known as dog salmon and make up a small portion of wild-caught Pacific salmon. Their flesh is redder than that of other species, due to their high concentrations of blood vessels and meat. This makes them rich in color but relatively dry.
Because they’re fished commercially for use in pet food, you might see chum salmon labeled for human consumption. However, it isn’t safe to eat raw because it can contain parasites. The FDA recommends cooking it thoroughly before eating.
Chum has a firm texture and mild flavor that works well with bolder flavors like soy sauce or wasabi—it can be substituted for any other type of salmon in recipes without changing much about how it tastes or feels on your tongue.
Atlantic salmon (Linnaeus, 1758)
The scientific name of the Atlantic salmon is Salmo salar. They can grow to a maximum length of 59 inches (150 cm) in length, although most of them are seen at around 47 inches (120 cm) and they weigh up to 46.8 kg (103 pounds).
They can live up to 13 years.
This is actually not a true salmon at all, but rather a member of a different fish family (Salmonidae) that has been widely introduced in North America. Although it can be found swimming around in fresh and coastal waters, Atlantic salmon is actually an invasive species.
It’s known for its black spots and fan-like tail fin. It’s high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids and relatively low in mercury—making it one of the healthiest types of seafood on Earth! Plus, there are several farm-raised varieties to choose from.
Coho or silver salmon (Walbaum, 1792)
The scientific name of the Coho salmon is Oncorhynchus kisutch. They grow to a maximum size of 41 inches (103 cm) in length, most of them are seen around a length of 30 inches (71 cm) and weigh up to 15.2 kg (pounds).
They can reach a maximum age of 5 years.
They are usually found in deep waters and are widely distributed throughout Alaska. The meat is delicate but can be prepared similarly to its cousin, sockeye salmon. Silver salmon isn’t really too popular because it’s not as aesthetically pleasing as other types of fish.
It has a pinkish hue, which some people find unappealing, but if you get past that, it tastes delicious! If you’re looking for something different than your typical wild-caught salmon, give silver salmon a try. Your palate will thank you.
Masu Salmon/Sea Trout (Brevoort, 1856)
The scientific name of the Masu salmon is Oncorhynchus masou. They can grow to a maximum length of 31 inches (79 cm), but most are commonly seen at around 20 inches (50 cm), and weighs around 10 kg (22 pounds).
They have a maximum lifespan of around 3 years.
Masu salmon is a sportfish that lives in cold northern waters, with most specimens being caught off of Japan. It has a soft fat composition and delicate flavor that makes it taste great when served raw. The meat can be baked or poached at low temperatures for delicate dishes, such as smoked masu salmon chowder. This type of salmon is also sold canned and used in soups and salads.
When buying masu salmon, look for shiny skin that’s reddish-pink to pink-orange in color. When cooked, it should flake easily and have white flesh. Like other types of salmon, mako comes from Alaska’s Pacific waters. However, unlike other types of salmon (which tend to grow larger), it grows to only about 31 inches long—making it smaller than other species like sockeye or king.