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The Ultimate Salmon Buying Guide

The Ultimate Salmon Buying Guide

Salmon is one of the most popular fish on the market - second only to tuna! Millions have jumped on the salmon craze, and with good reason. Salmon is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and protein. Plus, it’s super easy to cook for breakfast, lunch, or dinner


If you’ve recently become interested in adding salmon to your regular diet, all the choices may totally overwhelm you. When you go to the store or fish market, you’re bombarded with all different varieties of salmon. There are different species, cuts, colors, and different harvesting and preservation methods. So, what’s the best option?


To help you answer this question, we’re going to take a quick dive into our comprehensive salmon buying guide. This guide will help make purchasing salmon for your family a breeze and give you some insight to our sustainable practices here at Oshēn Salmon. Check it out! 

salmon buying guide

The Ultimate Salmon Buying Guide

Whether you’re buying salmon at the grocery store, at a fish market, or
direct to consumer, there are a lot of options out there. If you’re looking to home cook some salmon, the last thing you want is for everything to be overly complicated. Follow this buying guide to help you choose what salmon is best - so next time you go to make a purchase, you know exactly what you’re looking for.  
salmon buying guide

Salmon Species 

You’ll first need to select the type of salmon species you’d like to purchase. Each salmon variety has a different texture, flavor, and origin! We’ll explore a few of the most popular ones below: 

King Salmon

King salmon, also known as “chinook salmon”, is a wild caught Pacific salmon. It’s high in fat and has a bold, rich, and meaty flavor that has a slightly sweet after-taste. Their color ranges from white to deep red, depending on the variety. And these salmon, like the name implies, are huge!  

Sockeye Salmon

Sockeye salmon have the signature deep orange-red flesh you think of when imagining salmon. It’s a Pacific salmon with a bold fishy flavor and firm texture and they’re pretty small when compared to other varieties. They’re also more expensive in general as they are normally only wild caught during a very specific time of the year. 

Coho Salmon

Coho is another variety of Pacific salmon that is known for its glistening silver skin. It’s very fatty like a king salmon, but doesn’t hold such an intense flavor. Instead, the flavor is more mild for those who don’t like sharp fishy flavors. Coho salmon is a medium-sized fish as well—it’s not the smallest salmon species, nor is it the biggest. This variety can be found farmed or wild caught.

Pink Salmon

Pink salmon got its name from its light colored flesh. It’s another Pacific salmon variety, but this one has a low-fat content and a mild flavor. Most of the time you’ll see pink salmon canned, but it’s available frozen, fresh, and smoked too. Because it’s preserved and sold in so many ways, pink salmon is the most common species on the market. 

Keta Salmon

Keta salmon are a Pacific salmon species that’s also known as silverbrite, chum, or dog salmon. It’s a small fish with a duller red/pink color and a lower fat content. The flavor is moist and delicate, so it tends to have a much more mild fishy flavor. Keta is not used that often in the U.S. and is usually frozen or canned in other countries. 

Atlantic Salmon 

There are tons of salmon varieties in the Pacific ocean. But, the Atlantic has a single delicious species! All Atlantic salmon is sustainably farmed rather than wild caught. They have pinkish orange flesh and are larger than some other salmon varieties. Their flavor isn’t too fishy or oily, but instead, it’s rich and flaky. Our salmon here at Oshēn is the Atlantic species because it has great taste, a sizable portion, and tons of health benefits

Salmon Cuts

Once you pick what salmon species you want to buy, it’s time to select the cut! Just like any animal, there are a variety of cuts to choose from depending on your desired size, texture, and flavor! Here are the cut options you have with salmon: 

Loin

Loins are the main meaty part of the fish. Right behind the head, across the back, and cut right before the tail. These sections have great melt-in-your-mouth texture and offer one of the biggest portion sizes! Loins are high in fat, so you can cook them in lots of ways. Loins often hold some of the most flavorful parts of the fish. 

Belly 

The belly filet is the underside belly of the fish. It has the most omega-3 fatty acids, so it’s one of the healthiest portions. It’s a small filet, but it’s thick and full of fat. 

Portion

This cut is between the loin and the tail. It’s totally boneless, which makes it easy to cook and eat! It holds all the great flavor of the salmon and has a delightful flaky texture. Plus, this cut is a great choice for regular meal time because each portion is the perfect size for one person! 

Whole Filet 

There are many types of salmon filets, but this option is simply the whole fish. It has a great presentation and an obviously generous portion size. It’s flaky, super healthy, and full of delicate flavor. 

Tail Filet

The tail filet is, you guessed it, the meat of the tail! This meat is very lean and boneless like the portion cut. It’s the perfect size for a single person, but it is smaller and thinner than all other cuts. It’s no less flavorful, though, making it a great cut for everyday meals. 

Salmon Colors

Another difference you might see is salmon color. This one is simple. Naturally, most salmon on the list are some variation of red or pink. In wild salmon, this is due to the krill and shrimp the salmon eat! 

For salmon that are farm-raised, you might see a larger range in color. This is because some farmers use low-quality feed that doesn’t produce this healthy, bright color. Here at Oshēn, we only give our fish the best quality food that contains no dyes or hormones. So, you can expect our salmon to always have that deep orange-red color you’re looking for! 

Salmon Preservation Methods

Salmon can be preserved in a variety of ways, all of which will affect the salmon’s flavor and longevity. Here are the ways you’ll see salmon preserved and stored at your fish markets or stores:

Frozen

You’ll see lots of frozen salmon online and in stores. Frozen salmon lasts a long time, is easy to store, and is usually cheaper! If salmon is frozen too long or frozen too slowly, the texture can become soft and mushy. The flavor and nutrient value can also diminish over time. But, if salmon is flash frozen (like our frozen salmon portions), it’s easy to avoid these ill effects. You can read more about the pros and cons of frozen salmon here: [LINK FROZEN SALMON VS FRESH SALMON WHEN LIVE]

Canned

Canned salmon has just as many nutrients as frozen salmon and lasts just as long - if not longer! It doesn’t have the flaky, firm texture of other salmon options, but it still maintains a rich flavor. Many people compare it to the flavor of canned tuna.  

Smoked

Smoked salmon, like the name implies, has a smoky and salty taste. This salmon variety tends to have a fishy aroma, but those looking for a campfire-like smoky flavor will love this choice! Depending on how it’s smoked, it could have a silky or flaky texture - both of which are delicious! Because of its delicate nature and luxurious taste, smoked salmon tends to be one of the priciest options when it comes to purchasing salmon.

Fresh

Fresh salmon has the best flavor, crispest texture, and the most nutrients. But - we totally get it. Fresh fish is not always practical since you have to use it quickly. Plus, it usually comes at a higher price. However - it’s definitely the best option if you can plan ahead and if you know how to keep salmon fresh. And, if you live in the United States, you also don’t have to worry about being close to a salmon farm to get fresh fish. Oshēn salmon delivers seven days fresher than the competition—no matter where you are in the country!

Salmon Harvesting Methods

Finally, salmon can be raised and harvested in different ways. This is the last piece of the puzzle when deciding what salmon to purchase. Let’s go over a couple different methods of harvesting salmon: 

Wild Caught

Wild caught salmon are harvested traditionally through fishing. Wild caught salmon are raised in their natural habitat and caught during peak seasons. They have a bright red color from their natural diet and have great texture! The flavor and nutritional value varies a little with wild caught salmon due to their unpredictable and uncontrolled diet. 

Wild caught salmon can be a threat to the environment as the demand for salmon goes up and overfishing becomes prominent. Because of this, wild caught salmon can sometimes be difficult to find. That’s why, here at Oshēn salmon, we use only the most sustainable growing practices to date. 

Land Farmed

Farming is another method of harvesting salmon. This ensures we can keep up with the demand of salmon around the world without damaging our delicate waterways. Salmon are land farmed with above ground tanks that are monitored and managed by farmers. 

The quality of this fish can vary too, depending on the operation. Pens packed too tightly, poor feed quality, and less than ideal water conditions can leave you with dull, flavorless fish. Other companies offer higher quality feed and better conditions. When purchasing salmon, look for the BAP [LINK BAP ARTICLE WHEN LIVE] label to confirm they’re a good salmon source. If they have this label, you can expect delicious farmed fish.  

Ocean Farmed

Last, there are ocean farmed salmon. Ocean farmed salmon has the best of both worlds. Salmon live and thrive in their native ocean habitats without the threat of overfishing or contamination. Ocean farming is completely sustainable, due to its use of almost exclusively natural resources to farm.This makes it a great choice for you, the fish, and the environment! 

Oshēn salmon is ocean farmed, and we take great care to provide the best conditions for our fish. We use the best feed without any growth hormones or dyes. And, we see our salmon all the way through from production to delivery to ensure it's safe for your family. Not only is our salmon more sustainable than the wild caught option, but it’s more consistent. You can expect great flavor and nutrients every time! 

Salmon buying guide
This buying guide will help you select the right fish and cut for your next salmon shopping trip! 

Salmon is a delicacy. It’s affordable, tastes great, and is extremely healthy! But, finding the right kind of salmon to buy can be tedious and confusing. Using this buying guide, you can select the perfect salmon variety for you and your family - every time. We always recommend our fresh or frozen direct-to-consumer salmon delivering boxes - they have a BAP certification label, tremendous flavor, and the freshest delivery out there. Ready to purchase? Use code FRESH for 15% off at checkout!

salmon buying guide
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