Get to Know Your Salmon: King Salmon


King Salmon in CT - Atlantic Seafood Market

King Salmon is a delicious fish that goes by many names. Just a few of the other labels that this tasty fish has been slapped with over the years include Chinook Salmon, Quinnat Salmon, Spring Salmon, and Tyee Salmon.1 It is the largest of all of the Pacific Salmon breeds, averaging between 24 and 36 inches in length and usually tipping the scales somewhere between 30 and 50 lbs. Not all King Salmon fall within these confines though, as they can grow to be nearly 5 feet long and the heaviest King Salmon (at least of the ones that have been caught) weighed in at a whopping 127lbs!1

King Salmon are found throughout the United States Pacific Coast, from as far south as California and as far north as Alaska. They are not limited to the USA however, as they are also found off the coastal areas of Japan and Northern Russia, as well as off the coast of southern South America. In addition to this, they have artificially (though rather successfully) been introduced into areas such as coastal New Zealand and the Great Lakes here in America.2

As is the case with most salmon, King Salmon spend a good amount of their lives living in the ocean. They normally live to be around 7 years old, but will spend the first 3-4 years of their adulthood in the ocean before returning to the fresh waters of their birth to spawn. Spawning generally takes place between September and December. Once they’re hatched and reach the age of independence, King Salmon will gradually move toward estuary waters and eventually out into the ocean.2

In terms of taste and texture, King Salmon feature a firm flesh that is of a dark red hue and a very rich flavor. Due to the rather challenging upstream migration they engage in for spawning purposes, King Salmon build up large amounts of oil within their flesh and this leads to them having a moist and more “fishy” flavor than other salmon varieties, which is pure heaven for any hardcore seafood fan. This is especially true of the King Salmon that are caught near the mouth of the Yukon River.2

King Salmon have had a large impact culturally, especially in the Northwestern Pacific coastal areas. Many native American tribes of Alaska will often hold a celebration when the first King Salmon of the season is caught, as it is one of their most profitable resources. It has been widely recognized enough to become Alaska’s official state fish, where its large size and robust flavor is especially appreciated.1

Below is a delicious recipe from Martha Stewart entitled King Salmon with Braised Fennel and Artichokes which is easier to prepare than one might think.

Ingredients (for braised fennel and artichokes): 1/2 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, coarse sea salt, ground black pepper, 1/2 cup dry white wine, 4 thinly sliced garlic cloves, 4 springs of thyme, 4 strips of lemon peel, 4 large artichokes with the outer leaves removed and the hearts cut into thin slices, 3 long fennel bulbs cored with outer layers removed and cut in 2×1/8 inch strips, and one dried mild red chili pepper4

Ingredients (for King Salmon portion): 3 tbs butter, 3 tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil, freshly ground black pepper, and 4 6-oz salmon fillets (skin-on))3

1. Prepare the fennel and artichokes by heating the olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat, adding the garlic and chili pepper and cooking for 2-3 minutes.

2. Add the fennel and artichokes, lemon peel, thyme, and wine into the frying pan, stirring everything together. Cook the mixture for about 25 minutes, occasionally stirring it.

3. Transfer the solid elements into a bowl using a slotted spoon. Increase the heat to high and then pour half of the liquid over the artichokes and fennel 3

4. Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper

5. Heat the olive oil and butter in a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat.

6. Place the fillets in the pan skin side down and cook for 5 minutes, pressing the fillets with a spatula

7. Turn the fillets over and cook for one more minute.

8. Put the fillets on four separate serving dishes and garnish with the braised fennel and artichokes3

Works Cited

1.Author Unknown
King Salmon

2. Gamber, Garry
Salmon Species and Everything You Ever Wanted to Know King Salmon, Sockeye, Silver, Pink, Chum, and Atlantic Salmon

3. Stewart, Martha
King Salmon with Braised Fennel and Artichokes

4. Stewart, Martha
King Salmon with Braised Fennel and Artichokes

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