Wild Sockeye Salmon Fillet, Skin-On (400g) from Canada.
Wild Sockeye Salmon is rich in texture and high in flavor. In fact, for people who like the flavor of salmon, sockeye tastes the most like salmon.
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Sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) is also known as “red salmon” because of the dark red-orange color of its flesh and because it turns deep red as it swims upstream at the end of its life to spawn. Sockeye salmon is smaller than most other salmon, weighing in at about five pounds to a maximum of 15 pounds, with thinner, more compact flesh.
Wild-caught sockeye is common fished in Canada and Alaska.
Like all salmon, sockeye salmon hatches in freshwater streams. Unique among salmon, sockeye prefers watersheds with lakes and spends up to three years living in lakes before heading downstream to the ocean. Some sockeye populations stay in freshwater lakes for their whole life cycle. These fish are known as kokanee salmon or “silver trout,” and are much smaller than other sockeyes.
Sockeye salmon spends the saltwater portion of its life in the North Pacific, where it can be found along the coast in Northern California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska, and in northern Japan. When it reaches maturity and is ready to spawn, it heads back toward its home stream and swims upriver to breed.
Like other salmon, sockeye fattens up for this trip, since it won’t eat once it reaches fresh water. Indigenous peoples would often harvest salmon as it headed upriver, and many tribes still do. Whereas the commercial catch is fished out at sea to get the salmon before it reaches the river and is still at its fattest and tastiest.
Sockeye salmon is rich in texture and high in flavor. In fact, for people who like the flavor of salmon, sockeye tastes the most like salmon. The sockeye salmon eats more plankton and crustaceans like shrimp than other salmon species, which contributes to its darker color and rich flavor.
Sockeye salmon is the second fattiest salmon (after King Salmon) and has the added benefit of having the firmest texture of all Pacific salmon. Many of the fishermen in Alaska, will swear they prefer the more intense flavor of sockeye over the richness of the King Salmon.
Atlantic salmon is the large pale orange farmed fish you see year-round just about everywhere fish is sold. It is oily, with thick flaky flesh and a mild flavor. Sockeye salmon, on the other hand, is much smaller, so the fillet is always thinner and more compact, with an intense reddish color and rich flavor. While the larger Atlantic salmon is sold both diametrically cut as a steak and slices from the fillet, the smaller sockeye is usually sold only as a fillet. And because sockeye is predominantly a wild fish, it is available fresh only from late spring through the summer and into September. For this reason, sockeye usually costs considerably more than Atlantic salmon.
Sockeye salmon is a single species of salmon. One subspecies, the kokanee salmon, a freshwater variety, is believed by some to be a different species altogether. As sockeye is a wild fish, there is some notable variation in taste and consistency based on size of the fish, where it was caught, and at what stage in its development it was caught. Besides fresh and frozen, sockeye salmon can sometimes be found smoked or canned.
Use sockeye salmon for most any salmon recipe where you are looking for a smaller fillet with more compact flesh, a more intense flavor, and a dark reddish-orange color. Also, use simpler recipes without overwhelming sauces or spices so you can really enjoy the unique flavor of sockeye salmon. (Note: Because the sockeye fillets will probably be smaller and thinner than most other types of salmon, adjust the weight and cooking time accordingly.)
At Biltong Chief, we love to braai and barbecue whenever we get the chance. And these whole, skin-on sockeye fillets are ideal for the barbecue.
Sockeye salmon has firm, compact flesh, which makes it stand up very well to grilling. Grilli sockeye salmon fillets skin-side down without turning them. Cooking sockeye salmon on a wooden plank on the grill is a traditional method that helps prevent the fish from overcooking or sticking to the grates. Other options for cooking salmon include baking, cooking in foil and slow roasting in the oven. Frying salmon is another option that will give it a crispy skin.
As a general rule for cooking seafood the moment the flesh changes from translucent to opaque (eg. white, or the natural colour of the fish) you want to remove it from the heat. The exceptions are tuna – best served rare. Salmon, trout and scallops are best-served medium-rare.
Our butcher’s aim to package with at most a +/-10% variance. Please let us know if you receive less than 90% of the advertised weight, and we’ll be happy to refund you proportionally. This is not done intentionally.
Please note that the pictures shown are for reference only and may not be an exact representation of the product. Currently, unless specified otherwise, all our meats and seafood are frozen.