Get to Know Your Salmon: Coho Salmon


In this, the second installment of our “Get to Know Your Salmon” series, we’ll be introducing you to the delicious and versatile member of the salmon family known as the Coho Salmon.

Coho bear the scientific name of “Oncorhynchus Kisutch” but are also referred to as Silver Salmon due to the color that their skin possesses… at least most of the time. While living out most of their adult lives in the ocean, Coho salmon have silver sides and dark blue backs. However, when they return to the fresh waters of their birth to spawn, they turn bright red and their heads take on a greenish-blue color.

Coho typically reach a size of about 28 inches and usually weigh between 7-11 lbs, though there have been some on record who have surpassed 30lbs in weight.1 Coho are born in fresh water and tend to live there until they reach maturity and then will migrate outward to salt water areas where they will stay until they come back to the freshwater to spawn after a period of 2-3 years.

Coho are most frequently found in the waters of the northern portion of the Pacific Ocean and are often caught off the coasts of Japan, Russia, the Korean peninsula, Alaska, Washington, and Oregon. Due to human intervention, Coho salmon also exist in smaller numbers in the Great Lakes region.2. They are a very popular target for sport fishermen, as they will chase most any bait and are quite easily captured. Even though they are so easily caught and exist in such great numbers, they still only amount for 3.5% of the overall catch by fishermen in Alaska, where they are most commonly found.2

While Coho Salmon boast great numbers, their ranks have been thinning over the past few years. To combat this, several undertakings have been made by conservationists. Just some of these include the removal of dams that are blocking Coho spawning paths, concentrated efforts to eliminate pollution in their habitat, and some Coho being hand raised in commercial fisheries.2

In terms of taste, Coho are among the more mild salmon varieties, with a taste more delicate and subtle than sockeye but slightly more powerful than Chinook. Their flesh is light pink and is of a more muted hue than that which is seen in many other salmon varieties. Due to their diet of plankton and small fish, they have a soft flesh that spoils easily if they are not dressed our immediately after being caught.1 The good news here is that if you’re buying Coho salmon, you know you’re getting an EXTREMELY fresh product!

Coho Salmon in CT - Atlantic Seafood Market
A view of a fresh Coho Salmon filet at Atlantic Seafood Market of Old Saybrook

If you’re like most people, you might enjoy reading about Coho but would even more enjoy tasting some. In that spirit, here’s a delicious Coho Salmon Recipe from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch:

Roasted Coho Salmon with Lemon-Herb Breadcrumbs

Ingredients: 1 tbsp dijon mustard, 1.5 tbsp lemon juice, 4 Six ounce Coho Salmon fillets, 1 minced shallot, 2 tbs + 1 tsp olive oil, 2.5 tbsp chives, 1.5 tbsp chopped parsley, 1 tbps ground lemon zest, salt and pepper (to taste), and 1.5 slices of sourdough bread 3

Directions: 1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Mix lemon juice, mustard, and olive oil in a bowl.
2. Place fillets scale-side down on baking sheet and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
3. Cut the bread into 1 inch pieces and put them into a blender to create breadcrumbs. Put them into a bowl and mix with shallots, chives, parsley, lemon zest, and 1 tbs + tsp of olive oil. Add this to the other bowl of ingredients and stir well.
4. Spoon out the mixture on to the top of each fillet and gently press it in. Brush another baking sheet with olive oil and place the salmon on it, scale side down.
5. Cook until the flesh of the fish is firm and opaque. This should take about 10 minutes. 3

For more great seafood recipes, feel free to take a look at the Monterey Bay Aquarium seafood recipes site.

Works Cited
1.Author Unvailable
Wild Coho Salmon
Fisherman Direct

2. Author Unknown
Coho Salmon (Oncorhynchus Kisutch)
NOAA Fisheries, April 9, 2012

3. Kidd, Kristine
Roasted Coho Salmon with Lemon Herb Breadcrumbs
Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch

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