Salmon: Main Image

Buying Tips

Quality salmon is easy to recognize. Fresh salmon never smells fishy, it smells fresh. The eyes should appear bright and clear, almost alive. The gills should be reddish, and the skin moist and with tightly adhering, shiny scales. Fresh salmon flesh will give slightly when you press it with a finger, then spring back into shape. When choosing salmon steaks or fillets, whether they’re fresh or previously frozen, look for moist, translucent (never dried out) flesh.


There are five types of Pacific salmon. Chinook, also called the spring or king salmon, often weighs in at more than 35 pounds (15.75 kg); prized by gourmets, its firm flesh can range from ivory white to deep red. Chum salmon (also known as dog salmon) are known as keta when canned; the flesh ranges from pale to medium red. Coho, or silver salmon, is known for its red color and its versatility. Sockeye is the mainstay of the commercial fish industry; it has a deep red-orange, firm flesh, and is called “red salmon” when canned. Lastly, Pink salmon (also known as humpback or humpie) are the smallest and most abundant of the Pacific species; the flesh is light in color and delicately flavored.

Atlantic salmon, native to Nova Scotia and Norway, is usually farm-raised in the United States.

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The information presented in the Food Guide is for informational purposes only and was created by a team of US–registered dietitians and food experts. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements, making dietary changes, or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2024.