An iconic fish in Canada, salmon is worthy of celebration, and today, on National Salmon Day, we can’t think of a better way to celebrate than to get to know our favourite fish a little better. Here in Canada, we’re fortunate that all six types of salmon that are most consumed call our waters home. Let’s get to know these six important salmon species and some other fun salmon facts too!
Six Types of Salmon You Should Know
Sockeye or Red
With a vibrant red-orange colour, the flesh of this salmon offers rich flavour and a stronger scent. Often smoked, Sockeye salmon is a favourite among chefs.
Small and lean, Sockeye salmon are commonly caught in Alaskan waters, though they also call Canada home.
Pink or Humpback
Though it’s not common in Canada, pink salmon is also referred to as humpback, or “humpies” because of a fleshy hump that develops on their back during spawning. Mild in flavour and low in fat, pink salmon is a go-to for anyone who prefers a fish that’s not too “fishy.”
On the smaller side, pink salmon are typically between two and six pounds with light-coloured pink flesh. They’re harvested in Alaska and along the West Coast of Canada and the United States.
The only species on our list that doesn’t come from the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic salmon is large in size yet mild in flavour.
This salmon is caught primarily along the southern coasts of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland.
Chinook or King
Regal in every sense of the word, Chinook is known as the King of salmon. High in fat and rich in flavour, it’s a highly sought-after species. It’s also exceptionally nutritious and packed with healthy omega-3s.
Chinook call the cooler waters of the Pacific home, from California up to Alaska with most harvested in Canadian and Alaskan waters.
Chum or Keta
Second in size only to Chinook, chum can weigh up to 35 pounds. With a lower oil content than many other species, chum have a mild flavour and firm texture with orange, pink, or red flesh. While chum is often canned or frozen, it’s often caught for its roe, or eggs. Considered a delicacy, chum roe is bigger and tastier than other species of salmon. Chum are caught in Alaskan waters and the Pacific Northwest.
Also referred to as silver salmon, Coho have bright silver skin, delicate texture, and subtle flavour. Because of their small size, Coho lend themselves well to being cooked whole.
Coho are commonly found and harvested in Northern Pacific and Alaskan waters.
How Well Do You Know Salmon? Some Fun Facts
Known as anadromous, salmon live in both salt and fresh water. Born in freshwater, they move out to the ocean after a few months or years and return to freshwater when it’s time to spawn.
There’s no place like home.
Though they live at sea for many years, salmon return to the river in which they were born to spawn. Their impressive journey home involves swimming upriver and jumping up waterfalls – all while avoiding being hunted by predators. Though scientists don’t know exactly how salmon do it, their sense of smell is believed to help them navigate.
An important part of our heritage.
There’s no denying that Pacific salmon holds important cultural significance in Canada, especially to Indigenous communities. Not only is it an important part of our cultural heritage, but it has played a critical role in the economic development of our coastal communities.