Salmon Species and Recipes for Cooking


Chinook (King)



Chinook is the largest of the five Pacific salmon species, with mature adults growing to about 40 inches in length and weighing an average of 22 pounds. However, kings may grow as large as 100 pounds or more. In Alaska waters, 40- to 50-pounders are not uncommon. This fish is the prize of the industry, but only accounts for one percent of the harvest.







The Sockeye is Alaska’s most valuable fish. The Alaskan adult averages 24 inches in length and 6 to 9 pounds. Sockeye account for 25 to 30 percent of Alaska’s commercial salmon harvest. They are also called reds because males turn a brilliant red color when spawning.







Coho salmon is the third most valuable of Alaska’s salmon. It is the primary catch of the Alaska troller. Coho, also known as silvers, are often sold whole in seafood markets, but may also be smoked or canned. They average 29 inches in length and 9 pounds in weight, but may reach up to 30-plus pounds. Coho amount to about 5 percent of the total salmon harvest.





Chum (Dog)


These fish are of lower value to Alaska fishermen because their meat is a pale, yellowish color which makes them unmarketable as red salmon. Nevertheless, chum meat is widely marketed in stores in the lower forty-eight. They reach an average length of 30 inches and a weight of 8 pounds. The largest chum on record weighed in at around 30 pounds and was caught in Alaska.





Pink Salmon (Humpy)

These are the smallest and least valuable, per pound, of Alaska salmon. However, these little salmon are the most abundant of them all. They are almost exclusively used for canning and are the main catch of many purse seining boats. At maturity they average 16 to 22 inches and usually reach weights of about 4 pounds. They are most common in Southeast (Region 1). Male pink salmon develop a large hump on their back prior to and during spawning; thus the name humpy.





Copper River Salmon


The flavor of a salmon will vary depending on which river the fish was taken from. Salmon caught in Alaska’s Copper River are widely considered the best of all, but are available for only four or five weeks a year in May and June.
King, Sockeye, and Silver salmon embark on long journeys up the Copper River (300 miles long) to spawn and lay their eggs. As salmon begin their last journey up this home stretch and prepare to mate, their feeding habits diminish. Because the Copper River salmon’s journey is so long, they must store extra fat and oils in order to survive the long trip. This high fat and oil content is why Copper River salmon are recognized as some of the world’s best eating salmon.





Steelhead Trout



Steelhead Trout are an unique species; individuals develop differently depending on their environment. While all O. mykiss (Genus/Species) hatch in gravel-bottomed, fast-flowing, well-oxygenated rivers and streams, some stay in fresh water all their lives. These fish are called rainbow trout. The steelhead that migrate to the ocean develop a much more pointed head, become more silvery in color, and typically grow much larger than the rainbow trout that remain in fresh water.
They are usually dark-olive in color, shading to silvery-white on the underside with a heavily speckled body and a pink to red stripe running along their sides.
A Steelhead Trout is often called a salmon but that is incorrect. In the taxonomy, salmon and steelhead  belong to the same family (Salmonidae).

There are five species of salmon found in North America. The Chinook (King), Coho (Silver), Sockeye, Pink, and Chum Salmon. The flavor, texture, and color of the Pacific species of king (or Chinook), sockeye and coho are all superior to any farmed salmon.The general rule about cooking salmon is that the higher the quality of the fish, the easier it is to cook it.  For example, Spring Chinook (by far the best tasting salmon) can either be pan-fried or cooked under the broiler. Wild salmon has so much flavor that all it really needs is a hot skillet and a sprinkle of salt. Here are basic cooking methods for salmon:  broiling, pan-frying, grilling, and poaching.

  • Broiled Salmon  Broiling is best used for Chinook and it will leave the salmon moist.  Preheat broiler at least 5-7 minutes beforehand. Wash your fillets or steaks in cold salt water.  Spread some olive oil on the bottom of the broiling pan and rub some into the salmon.  Brush the salmon with some lemon juice and sprinkle lightly with Kosher salt.  Place on broiler rack six (6) inches from heat.  After 6-8 minutes (depending upon the thickness of the filet or steaks), turn the broiler off but DO NOT open the oven door.  Let sit in the broiler for 5-7 minutes.  You do not need to turn salmon fillets while they’re broiling.  A variation of this (best for Sockeye and Coho) method is to marinate the salmon in lime juice and soy juice for an hour or so.  Broil the salmon in the marinade sauce.
  • Pan-Fried Salmon  Pan-frying salmon makes for a delicious entree. The trick is to allow your oil or butter to get hot before frying. This captures the oils and juices and keeps them in the salmon. Do not allow your oil to get too hot and smoke. The basics include rinsing your fish quickly or wiping with a damp cloth. Dip your fillet portions or steaks into milk, then in cracker crumbs or flour. You can season either as well. Your oil should be deep enough to cover 1/2 of the fillet or steak thickness. Fry on medium heat about 3 to 5 minutes on each side, until golden brown.
  • Grilled Salmon  Rub or brush the skin of the salmon with a bit of olive oil.  You can also season the salmon with your own personal seasonings if you choose. Some good seasonings for salmon are lemon and pepper seasoning, garlic, and cayenne pepper. Place the salmon skin-side down on the grill and cook for around five to seven minutes. Check to make sure that no part of the salmon is cooking faster than another. If there are parts which are cooking faster, move the salmon to a cooler part of the grill. Continue cooking for another five to seven minutes. It’s not hard to learn how to cook salmon if you remember to leave the skin on, and keep the grill closed while it’s cooking. Also, you want to check and make sure the meat of the salmon is flaky and not heavy. Then, take the salmon from the grill and brush with butter and a bit of lemon juice.
  • Poached  A beautifully poached piece of salmon is clean tasting and light. In Julia Child’s directions for poaching fish, she says, “Fish that is resistant and flaky is overdone – too bad!” Julia’s simple recipe for Poached Salmon with Cucumber Sauce is in her 1989 cookbook, The Way to Cook. Poaching is an easy and healthy technique. It’s so easy! You can experiment with flavoring the poaching liquid but this simple recipe calls just for water and wine vinegar.  You will find the recipe below.

15-Minute Salmon with Mustard, Dill Sauce


  • 1-1/2 lbs salmon filet cut into 4 pieces, skin and bones removed
  • 1 TBS fresh lemon juice

Dill Sauce

  • 2 medium garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 TBS Dijon mustard
  • 2 TBS fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh dill
  • salt and white pepper to taste


  1. Preheat broiler on high and place an all stainless steel skillet (be sure the handle is also stainless steel) or cast iron pan on the heat for about 10 minutes to get it very hot. The pan should be 5 to 7 inches from the heat source.
  2. Press garlic and let it sit for at least 5 minutes to bring out its health-promoting properties.
  3. Rub salmon with 1 TBS fresh lemon juice, salt, and pepper. (You can Quick Broil with the skin on; it just takes a minute or two longer. The skin will peel right off after cooking.)
  4. Using a hot pad, pull pan away from heat and place salmon on hot pan. Return to the broiler. Keep in mind that it is cooking rapidly on both sides so it will be done very quickly (7 minutes per inch of thickness). Test with a fork for doneness. It will flake easily when it is cooked. Salmon is best when it is still pink inside.
  5. To make the sauce, add garlic to a stainless steel skillet and stir for half a minute. Add mustard, lemon juice, broth, honey, salt, and pepper. Cook on high heat for a minute to reduce slightly and then add dill. Pour over salmon and serve.

Cedar Plank Grilled Salmon

You will need:

  • Two cedar plank (6 by 14 inches)
  • Two salmon fillets (1 1/2 pounds total)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Six (6) tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • Six (6) tablespoons brown sugar

Soak cedar plank in salted water for 1-2 hours, then drain. Remove skin from salmon fillet. Remove any remaining bones. Rinse the salmon under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Generously season the salmon with salt and pepper on both sides. Lay the salmon (on what was skin-side down) on the cedar plank and carefully spread the mustard over the top and sides. Place the brown sugar in a bowl and crumble between your fingers, then sprinkle over the mustard.

Charcoal Grill  Set grill for indirect grilling and heat to medium-high. Place the cedar plank in the center of the hot grate, away from the heat. Cover the grill and cook until cooked through, around 20 to 30 minutes. The internal temperature should read 135 degrees F. Transfer the salmon and plank to a platter and serve right off the plank.

Gas Grill  On a gas grill, the cooking time will be about 15 minutes.

Grilled Salmon with Curried Peach Sauce

This salmon steak is grilled with a sweet, simple peach sauce. It can also be baked using a filet. Easy to prepared and our favorite. We experimented with other fruits such as blueberries and pears (canned). Peaches are the best.


  • 2 fresh peaches, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Two (2) salmon steaks


  1. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat, and lightly oil grate.
  2. Stir together the peaches, honey, and curry powder in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, and cook until the peaches break down, and the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Season the salmon steaks with salt and pepper, and cook on the preheated grill until the fish flakes easily with a fork, 5 to 10 minutes per side depending on the thickness of the steaks. Pour the peach sauce over the salmon to serve.

Orange Glazed Salmon

Not only is this dish quick and easy to make, it is also packed with nutrition.  The simple glaze transports the salmon into a gourmet extravaganza.  The brine ensures that your fish stays moist while baking.

You will need:

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 boneless, skinless Salmon fillets
  • 1/4 cup orange marmalade
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons Cajun seasoning


  1. To make brine: Mix together the water, salt and sugar. Place the salmon fillets in a large sealable bag. Pour water mixture over it. Seal bag and refrigerate 2 hours.
  2. Remove salmon from the brine and rinse well under cold water. Place salmon on a plate and pat dry.
  3. In small saucepan, over low heat, whisk together the marmelade, orange juice, brown sugar, lime juice and Cajun seasoning.
  4. Line a baking dish with foil and place salmon in dish.  Pour glaze over salmon and bake at 375 degrees for 12 minutes or until fish is just cooked through.
  5. Garnish with parsley or chives before serving.

Julia Child’s Poached Salmon with Cucumber Sauce

You will need:

  • Salt
  • Red or white wine vinegar
  • 1¼ pounds salmon filet

You will need for the cucumber sauce:

  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon wine vinegar
  • 1 cup sour cream (I used ½ light sour cream and ½ Greek yogurt)
  • 2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Steps for the poached salmon:

  1. Measure 3 inches of water into a wide-rimmed saucepan. Add 1½ teaspoons salt and 3 tablespoons wine vinegar for every quart of water. Bring to a boil.
  2. Add the salmon. Bring to just below a simmer and cook for about 6 minutes until done. According to Julia Child “Fish is done when the flesh has turned from translucent to opaque and, rather than feeling squashy to the touch like raw fish, it feels lightly springy. It should still be juicy. 
  3. Remove the salmon with a slotted spatula and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to absorb the extra water.
  4. Transfer to a serving platter or plates and serve with the cucumber sauce.
Steps for the cucumber sauce:
  1. Put the cucumber in a bowl and toss with the salt, sugar, and vinegar.
  2. Let stand for about 5 minutes, then mix in the sour cream.
  3. Season to taste and fold in the dill. (May be made a few hours in advance and refrigerated).

Poached:  Soy Sauce and  Scallion

You will need:

  • 1 1/2-pound skin-on salmon fillet
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • Unpeeled ginger slices and scallion tops


  1. Put a 1 1/2-pound skin-on salmon fillet in a pot or pan large enough to hold it. Barely cover the fish with water.
  2. Add 1 cup soy sauce, unpeeled ginger slices and scallion tops. Cover, and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce to a simmer, and cook for 1 minute, then turn off the heat, and let salmon sit until tender, about 10 minutes.
  4. Carefully remove the salmon, drain and chill in the refrigerator (up to a day).
  5. Garnish: Scallions and sesame oil.

Salmon on a Traeger Grill

The Traeger Grill is a different kind of animal from gas grills or from a charcoal grill in that it runs on compressed “pellets” made of different hardwoods. Instead of adding chips to get flavor, the pellets function as fuel and flavoring all at once and the smokey flavor you get from the Traeger. You have your choice of a ton of different “flavors” of pellets including Hickory, Alder, Apple, Cherry, Maple, Onion, Garlic, Mesquite, Grape Vine and more.  You can mix and match chips like you would spices in a rub to get subtle flavoring combinations in grilled food.

The Traeger can be used for baking, braising, barbecuing, grilling, roasting, and smoking. It is all about indirect heat provided by a small auger-fed firebox with a blower – so no direct flames are ever all that close to your food. The Traeger Grill is essentially a convection over powered by natural wood and with the associated wood smoke flavors.

The Traeger is made in Oregon and has thousands of devotees throughout the country.

Salmon Patties

salmon_pattyWant to enjoy salmon the year-around even when the fish is unavailable at the market?  Make some salmon patties and store them in the freezer.  Below is a recipe for salmon patties that is simple and easy to follow.

We purchase 14-15 pounds of salmon (Sockeye) in late summer once the prices have dropped to $6 or so a pound.  The four ingredients are:  salmon, fresh basil, roasted garlic, and roasted red peppers.  A food processor is essential for making the patties.

We make the patties in batches of 3-4 as this is what our food processor will handle  you can increase or decrease the number depending upon your processor.  A batch takes 1 1/2 red peppers, a half bulb of garlic (more or less depending upon your garlic taste buds), and about 1 – 1 1/2 pounds of salmon.  Use more salmon in a batch if you want larger patties. You can decide how much basil you desire but we are quite generous with basil.

We start by roasting the peppers in the oven by cutting them in half and cleaning out the seeds.  Sprinkle with olive oil and place on a cookie sheet – cook 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees.  We roast the garlic in the microwave but this takes some skill and patience until you know what power level and time your microwave will roast the garlic.  Once you determine that, the garlic cloves will pop right out of the husk.

Combine the four ingredients for a batch into the food processor and chop.  Remove and make into patties. Wrap each patty in plastic wrap and place in the freezer.

We sauté the patties in olive oil – don’t overcook as they will lose their juices.  We use a large skillet and often toss in some greens or vegetables (green beans) and cook them with the patties.

Don’t be confined by the recipe and you can explore and add other ingredients as well as remove others.  We once tried adding mashed potatoes as we wanted a one-skillet dinner.  But we added too much liquid to the potatoes so the patties got a bit mushy and our one-skilled dinner ended up more like a ‘hot dish’ as the potatoes, greens and salmon all got mixed together.  We will retry with drier potatoes. 

A Guide to Buying Seafood

The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s popular Seafood Watch program helps consumers and businesses make choices for healthy oceans. Their recommendations indicate which seafood items are “Best Choices,” “Good Alternatives,” and which ones you should “Avoid.” Download their app onto your smart phone and you can make the right decisions when shopping for fish.

Salmon Species

Oregonians talk about Klamath River salmon, or Rogue River salmon, as though every river has its own unique species. But isn’t a salmon a salmon? Sam Mace, Inland Northwest Project Director of Save Our Wild Salmon, has the answer to this question.

Their genetics are special. You couldn’t throw a Willamette River salmon in the Snake River and expect them to make the journey. It’s true that losing one particular run of salmon is not the same as losing a whole species, but their populations need as much genetic diversity as possible if they’re going to survive the rigors of a changing climate.

The loss of a particular salmon run doesn’t have to be permanent, though; Mace says there are cases of salmon returning to rivers once the stressors that drove them away (usually hydroelectric dams) are removed.

Salmon Recovery

For the past eight years, the champion of Northwest wild salmon and steelhead has been an 82-year-old judge with a sharp pen and a willingness to use it.

By early 2011, U.S. District Judge James A. Redden has sunk two plans the federal government argued would allow it to operate hydroelectric dams in the Columbia River basin without jeopardizing the region’s signature fish.

In Portland on May 9, 2011, he held what could be his last hearing in the salmon case, a final discussion of the government’s third shot at a 10-year plan. He’ll have to cut through the fog of fish numbers before handing down a decision with consequences for electricity ratepayers and farmers in four states.