What Types of Salmon Are Found in Alaska?

You may think that salmon is salmon—that it’s all the same. If you’re accustomed to buying your salmon from the grocery store, that may be true for you.

However, if you’re looking for the freshest, healthiest salmon available, look to Alaska. The pristine Pacific fishing waters are laden with fish and sea creatures of all kinds. Alaska Gold’s fishermen use only the most sustainable methods for catching these fish. Taste the quality for yourself by buying your salmon from us!

There’s an easy way to remember the main types of salmon that are found in Alaska: hold out your hand and spread your fingers. Each one corresponds to a variety of salmon, many of which you’ll find right here at Alaska Gold.

Keta (Chum) Salmon

Look at your thumb first, and remember: thumb rhymes with chum.

At Alaska Gold, we prefer to call it keta salmon, after its species name: Oncorhynchus keta. It’s the leanest of all the salmon species, and its mild taste makes it a perfect choice for adventurous marinades and sauces. It’s a versatile fish, much like halibut, and is sure to please even the picky eaters at your table.

Keta is the third most important fish in the US salmon fishing industry. It’s plentiful in the Pacific, fished from Alaska to Oregon, but Alaska reigns supreme when it comes to keta fishing.

Even beginner cooks can grill up a mean keta fillet. Its firm texture is easy to work with, and its versatility allows you to get creative with seasonings.

Sockeye Salmon

Next up is your pointer finger: point to your eye for sockeye.

These fish are famous for their oily, deep red flesh. Those extra fats and oils help boost brain function; if any fish could be called a “superfood,” sockeye would be a prime candidate.

Sockeye salmon boasts a delicate balance of firm, workable texture and superior flavor. Enjoy it grilled, poached, baked, or even canned! Look out for seasonality as you shop for seafood, though. Sockeye season starts in the middle of summer, and this fish is best enjoyed when caught in the wild of the Pacific Ocean.

King Salmon

Now look at the finger directly in the middle, and think of it as the king.

These salmon are rightfully called the king in large part due to their size. Individual fish can weigh over 100 pounds at their largest! It’s also got a king-size taste, reminiscent of the sea with a subtle hint of sweetness. King salmon, also known as Chinook salmon, is high in fat, so with the right cooking method, it’ll be sure to please. Try baking it in a 400-degree oven for around 20 minutes.

If you do buy fresh salmon from Alaska, go for Alaska Gold. We offer three main varieties of king salmon: marbled, ivory, and classic red. While they are all the same species—Oncorhynchus tshawytscha—the meats vary in color and taste.

Red King Salmon

These portions are probably recognizable to you: large, firm, and that lovely orange-pink color. They’re packed with healthy fats, and they boast a robust yet delicate flake. Our red king salmon, also called the Alaska Gold King Salmon, is sure to have a place of honor on your plate.

Ivory King Salmon

Lighter in color, sometimes nearly as white as halibut, our ivory king salmon is a prize and a favorite among fishermen. Only about five percent of king salmon are ivory in color, and they’re sometimes not even recognizable as salmon. Fishermen used to take these home for themselves and enjoy the premier taste, which is much milder than red king salmon and with a melt-in-your-mouth texture.

Marbled King Salmon

If you’re looking for a fish with a good flake and a high healthy fat content, go for marbled king salmon. Much like the prized Japanese Wagyu beef, marbled king salmon has intricate veins of extra fat that run through it and give it that buttery texture.

Silver (Coho) Salmon

Next up, look at your ring finger. Which metal makes beautiful rings? Silver.

At Alaska Gold, we use the “coho” moniker to refer to these shiny salmon. They’re sort of an in-between fish—not as lean as pink but not as fatty as king. It’s remarkably close in taste to its cousin, the sockeye salmon, but mild enough to win over diners who didn’t think they liked seafood.

Coho salmon is a perfect candidate for poaching; its relatively low fat content means it tends to dry out quickly, so get to cooking it as soon as possible! Poach it in your liquid of choice, or pan-sear it for a couple minutes on each side for a quick and delicious dinner.

If you’re looking for a taste that’s perfectly in between fatty and lean, or a texture between firm and fall-apart, coho salmon is the way to go.

Pink Salmon

It’ll be hard to look at your pinky finger without thinking pink!

Averaging only five pounds apiece, pink salmon is the smallest variety of the Big Five in Alaska. They mature quickly and begin their runs early on in life. During spawning, the male of the species develops a pronounced bump on its back, giving it the nickname “humpback salmon.” Because they begin their spawning cycle so early, pink salmon are also the shortest-lived of the salmon species in Alaska—they complete their cycle in only two years.

But what they lack in size and lifespan, they make up for in sheer numbers. Pink salmon are the most abundant of the above five species, and they are extremely lean and mild. Their taste and texture will satisfy kids and other seafood newcomers without being overpowering.

As you search around for the best salmon on the market, look to the north. Alaska is home to a biodiverse array of sea life, including five famous and valuable varieties of salmon alone. Depending on the season and availability of your fish of choice, Alaska Gold can fulfill many of your seafood needs. We rotate and update our inventory depending on what’s fresh and available in season, and we are proud to offer wild salmon caught using sustainable hook-and-line fishing methods.

If you have trouble remembering what types of salmon are found in Alaska, glance down at your hand and take a cue from those five fingers.

What Types of Salmon Are Found in Alaska?