There have been many studies in recent years proving the superior quality and health benefits of wild salmon versus farm raised (read here, here or here). On top of that, wild salmon offers you choices of different species. And even though they're all wild Alaskan salmon, they can be quite diverse. Let's take a closer look.
Each wild Alaskan salmon specie brings something else to the plate.
There are 5 species of wild Alaskan salmon: king (aka chinook), sockeye (aka red), coho (silver), keta (chum) and pink (humpy).
The biggest and most rare of the group is king salmon. If you're lucky enough to catch one, you deal with fish whose weight averages around 20lbs, in some cases up to 50-60lbs. Especially in long and cold rivers, such as Yukon River or Copper River, kings develop excellent fat content which makes them extremely popular amongst all fish lovers. But they're hard to get and even if you do see them on a menu, you'll pay a pretty penny. At a restaurant, you can easily pay over $50 for a portion of high quality king salmon (read more here)
The most popular wild salmon is sockeye, also known as "red". The nickname comes from bright red color of the flesh, but this salmon has other important qualities - good size (around 8lbs average), great nutritional value, high fat content and excellent taste. The top amongst sockeye's are the ones coming from Copper River. This long cold river gives the fish it's exeptional qualities and the local fishermen make sure these qualities are not compromised. Very few fisheries have the fishermen treat their catch with as much respect, care and awareness to quality. More about Copper River sockeye here.
On the other hand, the area with most abundance of sockeyes is Bristol Bay. Nowhere in the world you can see so many millions of sockeyes run up the streams of a local river system. The number varies every year, last year was historically in the top 5 with over 56 million fish. Watch some of the spectacular Bristol Bay salmon fishing here.
Rated by culinary popularity, coho salmon comes right after sockeye. This fairly large salmon (average around 10 lb) has milder taste than king or sockeye and is often enjoyed by salmon lovers and people who would normally not pick salmon as their first choice. And again, Copper River gives this specie just a little extra. You can read more about Copper River coho here.
Keta is known more in marinated form than just plain fresh or frozen, but what really puts this fish on the top quality seafood map is the roe. Salted keta roe, also known as ikura or red caviar, is a world famous delicacy, that extends its popularity from North America, through Japan to Russia and Europe.
Similar can be said about the pink salmon, but the pinks also make their name as very popular canned fish. What pinks lack in size (average around 3-4 lb) make up in volume - they are the most common wild Alaskan salmon. They didn't quite make their way to the fresh/frozen market, but with more and more education about the health benefits of this lean wild fish, we can expect that to happen soon.
Each wild Alaskan salmon specie brings something else to the plate. Our favorite are sockeyes and cohos. Make sure you order yours here.