Hello, fellow seafood lovers! Today, we’re going on a journey through the cool, crystal-clear waters of our beautiful British Columbia coast to meet our finned neighbours – the five species of wild BC salmon. So, grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and let’s dive in!
Before we meet our five salmon species, let's take a moment to appreciate the incredible journey these fish undertake. All salmon species of wild BC salmon begin their lives in either freshwater streams, rivers, or lakes.
As anadromous species, they then spend most of their life in the ocean and complete their life cycle by migrating up freshwater rivers back to their natal stream to spawn. In many cases, they return to the exact gravel bed where they were hatched.
Find out more on the biology and life cycle from the BC Salmon Marketing Council
Also known as Spring or King salmon, Chinook is the heavyweight champion of the salmon world, with an average commercial weight of 9 kg. These guys are the long-distance runners of the salmon world, migrating up to 1,500 kilometres inland. Their flesh is a deep-red to ivory colour and offers a rich, full flavour. Chinook has dense, meaty flesh that does particularly well on the grill, seared in a cast-iron pan, or broiled in a hot oven. It can also stand up to rich, flavorful sauces, though it certainly doesn’t need them to shine.
Meet the Coho, or Silver salmon, a vibrant reddish-orange beauty with a moderately full and versatile flavour. These guys are homebodies, choosing to stay in their spawning stream for a full year after they emerge from the gravel. Their firm and fine-textured flesh makes them a favourite for baking, broiling, grilling, poaching, and sautéing. Coho has less fat than sockeye and king salmon, meaning it can dry out if you’re not careful, so gentle preparations like poaching work well for it. You can also grill or pan-fry it as long as you’re mindful about not overcooking it.
Chum, also known as Silver-bright or Keta, are the adventurers of the salmon world. They spawn in late fall and usually in the lower tributaries along the coast, rarely more than 150 kilometres inland. Their reddish-pink flesh becomes paler as they migrate upstream, offering a milder and more delicate flavour. If you find fresh chum, cook it gently and avoid overcooking it. Because chum salmon is so low in fat, it’s best used in gentle-cooking preparations, like poaching.
Pink, or Humpback salmon, are the smallest of our salmon species, but what they lack in size, they make up for in flavour. Their light rose-pink flesh offers a mild and delicate taste. These guys are perfect for a quick and easy baked salmon dish! Because pink salmon is so low in fat, it’s best used in gentle-cooking preparations, like poaching, and you need to be careful not to overcook it.
Last but not least, meet the Sockeye, the most vibrant of our salmon species. Their deep red to orange-red flesh maintains its colour when cooked and offers a rich, full flavour. Their firm flesh with tighter flakes makes them perfect for grilling. Sockeye salmon are noted for their bright red-orange flesh and deep rich flavor. They are known as “reds” both for their dark flesh color and because their skin turns deep red as they move upstream to spawn.
Each of these species brings something unique to the table, and we’re proud to offer them at St. Jean’s Cannery and Smokehouse. We believe in sustainable sourcing and providing the highest quality seafood to our customers. So, next time you’re in the mood for some seafood, why not try one of our wild BC salmon? You’ll be supporting local fisheries and treating yourself to some of the best seafood the West Coast has to offer.
Until next time, stay wild and keep exploring the wonders of our local waters!