Wild Alaskan salmon are incredibly nutritious fish that offer endless possibilities for delicious meals. Here are some tips for properly preparing and cooking America's favorite wild fish!
First, the big picture:
In 2022, the Bristol Bay wild Alaskan sockeye salmon harvest of 60 million fish was the largest on record, and escapement goals for continuing generations of these popular fish were met or exceeded. This wildly sustainable sockeye salmon fishery is the largest, best-managed fishery in the world, and the pride of Alaska and the nation.
Why are wild Alaska salmon special?
There is much to love about wild Alaskan salmon. They are one of the most nutritious foods on the planet, one of America’s favorite fish, and one of the most sustainable. These sockeye salmon, also called red salmon, are famous for their unique red-orange hue. Not only are they nutrient dense; they are also delicious and easy to cook.
Wild Salmon is Lean and Healthy
Compared to farm-raised salmon, wild salmon is leaner. That’s because wild salmon travel thousands of miles in their lifetime, from meandering natal streams laced throughout western Alaska, downriver to the Bering Sea, where they live for several years
During this lifetime adventure, wild salmon travel thousands of miles, eventually returning to their birthplace. Regulating their bodies so they once again can live in freshwater, these hardy wild salmon swim upriver, navigating the long journey to their spawning grounds.
The life cycle of wild Alaskan salmon is epic! Compared to farm-raised salmon that are limited to swimming in pens, wild Alaskan salmon navigate the waters and dangers of their natural habitat for their entire lives. Because of this physically demanding journey, wild salmon are significantly leaner than farmed salmon.
Farmed Salmon Have Different Fat
While both farmed and wild salmon are famously rich in omega-3 fats - a healthy fat that fights inflammation and helps all the cells in our body function as they should - farmed salmon are fed a diet that typically increases the level of their omega-6 fats - the “unhealthy” fats. Farmed Atlantic salmon have more than double the saturated fat (the bad kind) than wild Alaskan salmon, according to a study by the Cleveland Clinic Medical Center.¹
In a side-by-side comparison, it is easy to identify each. Farmed salmon are a light pink color with deep veins of fat and a somewhat squishy texture. Wild Alaskan salmon are a deep red-orange, quintessentially “salmon” color from all the healthy crustaceans they eat, and they have a leaner, firmer texture.
Tips Before You Cook Wild Alaskan Salmon
There is a lot to love about wild Alaskan salmon. But for the best taste, you must cook it right.
It is not difficult to cook wild salmon to bring out the best flavor, but there are a few guidelines that can make a big difference. Here are the best tips for enjoying your next wild Alaskan salmon salmon dish.
Four important things to consider:
3. Start with Room Temperature Fillets
4. Pat Dry Your Salmon Fillets
Two fail-safe ways to cook wild salmon
Wild Alaskan salmon lends itself to many methods of cooking. Here are two always-successful ways to cook your salmon fillets or portions:
Low heat makes it almost impossible to overcook this fish. In fact, the heat is so gentle that your fish will still be slightly translucent even when fully cooked. If you’re new to cooking wild Alaskan salmon, this may be the method you want to try first.
Here is one simple way to slow-roast wild salmon. All you need are the following ingredients:
- Fillet of wild Alaskan salmon
- Sea salt
- Black pepper, freshly ground
- Extra virgin olive oil
Preheat your oven to 250°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Season both sides of your fillet with salt and pepper. Place it on the baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.
Place in the oven. Bake for 25 minutes (more or less) and check for doneness (which will depend on the thickness of your cut). Insert a knife in the center. If the center of your fish is flaking, your salmon fillet is done. It may still appear a bit translucent even when completely done because of this slow-roasting method.
Wild salmon is delicious when simply cooked this way, but of course you can easily add your own flourishes with spices, aromatics and sauces.
When you are ready to try something new, this is the perfect twist. After trying poaching, you may find it becomes your favorite method for cooking fail-safe, tender, moist salmon.
- 2-3 cups water (or enough to just cover your fish)
- 1½ cups dry white wine
- Half a lemon, sliced
- Half an orange, sliced
- Juice of ½ lemon
- Juice of ½ orange
- Few sprigs of dill
- Few sprigs of parsley
- Sea salt to taste
- Four 6 oz. portions of wild salmon
Use a deep skillet with straight sides and a lid. Place all ingredients in the skillet except the wild salmon and sea salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
Season both sides of your wild salmon portions with salt. Gently add the salmon to the simmering liquid in the skillet, skin side down, beginning with the thickest.
When all are added, cover and continue simmering over low heat for 4-5 minutes.
Check for doneness. Your salmon begin to turn opaque as they cook. With a slotted spoon, remove the thinnest ones first when they are opaque and flaky, and test for doneness. Err on the side of caution and do not overcook. It’s easy to put them back in to cook a bit longer, if necessary, but as we all know, we can’t uncook fish!
Wild Alaskan Salmon From the Fisher to the Fork
If you want a salmon dish that is out of this world, it begins with cooking the best fish. That is why The Popsie Fish Company offers boxes of sustainably harvested, wild Alaskan salmon in portion and fillet sizes that are ready to cook. The Popsie Fish Company is a three-generation family of fishers who catch their fish by setnet on the shores of Bristol Bay, at the mouth of the Egegik River.
The Popsie Fish Company ships frozen with delivery guaranteed - and a zero carbon footprint. You don’t need a subscription. You want to live a healthy lifestyle. So why wait?!
Shop The Popsie Fish Company today, your trusted source since 1987.