Discover|Food Spotlight

Catching On: Do You Know Your Pacific Northwest Salmon Types?

Can you tell a King Salmon from a Coho or a Sockeye?

Do you boggle when faced with the choices at the seafood counter? What’s the difference between King, Sockeye, and Silver or Coho? Which type do you want for grilling, baking, roasting or poaching? Let’s break it down.


As its name suggests, King salmon is the largest type of the Pacific salmon species—sometimes weighing more than 100 lbs. It’s got the most fat (nutrition enthusiasts call it “good fat”) and anti-inflammatory omega-3s. It’s a thick fish, full of buttery moisture with a texture that melts to perfection in your mouth. Prepare yourself—the King is usually the most expensive salmon in the case. But we wouldn’t bring it to you if we didn’t firmly believe it’s worth every penny. We carry King Salmon from Alaska, so our local orcas in the PNW have enough to maintain their healthy populations.

This salmon is so flavorful, it stands on its own with minimal seasoning, and holds its own on the BBQ, baked in the oven, roasted, broiled or poached. Try grilling it with a simple rub of herbs and spices. Maybe on a plank, to add some smoky flavor.


You can tell a piece of Sockeye Salmon by its distinctive color—that vibrant blood-orangey-red. While it’s on the lean side compared to Coho or King salmon, Sockeye packs the highest omega-3 levels of any fish. It’s the firmest textured salmon, so keep a sharp eye on your Sockeye to avoid overcooking. (Chef’s tip: leave the skin on to keep moisture in while cooking.) Sockeye is also the type of salmon with the strongest flavor, making it a favorite in the Pacific Northwest. A lighter preparation like salt, pepper, a sprinkling of herbs and a squeeze of lemon work well. Or try a light glaze of half soy sauce and half honey (plus a touch of garlic) while cooking.


Milder in flavor than either King or Sockeye, Coho is a crowd-pleaser, even for people who don’t care for fishy fish. Fatty enough to be fulfilling but not overpowering, this is a great choice for pretty much any preparation. This salmon type’s thick, firm texture makes it ideal for grilling, poaching or baking. We love the way Coho’s mild flavor comes to life with a butter or cream sauce like this Hollandaise.

Got salmon left over? Great! You’ve got dinner for tomorrow. Try this salmon chowder or bring this Lemony Salmon Pasta Salad to a picnic with friends.

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