Some helpful tips to choose a good salmon


I wrote this post just for my friends on facebook, but not for you to get smarter. Please do not read and press the back button NOW!

There quite a few simple things that may help you to buy a better value salmon for your money.

  • Fish market is better.
    If you are in UK try not to buy the salmon from a supermarket, but spend a bit more time and go to fish market. One of reasons in supermarket you can buy only farmed salmon, while when going to fish market you have a chances buying a wild salmon also.
  • Wild salmon is better.
    As a rule wild salmon is better than farmed one. Taste is better and it has better nutritional value. Also there were quite many articles that farmed salmon contains way too many toxins and may even cause the cancer. The easiest way to find out if salmon is farmed or not is just to ask the seller. Normally all boxes they sell are labeled and I do not think they will lye to you. Sometimes seller itself may tell you proudly that it is a Scottish salmon. I will leave it up to you if to buy farmed salmon or not. Do not get me wrong – it may be not bad at all, but it must be times cheaper than wild caught salmon. Normally wild salmon has more reddish meat while farmed salmon is more amber in colour.

wild salmon

  • Make sure you are buying right type of salmon.
    It is a bit unlikely but still possible that rouge sellers may try to sell you less expensive type of salmon as a more expensive type or even try to sell you a trout instead of salmon. There are quite many types of salmon Chinook, Coho, Chum, Pink, Sockeye, Steelhead. All of them have a bit of different taste and colour. Also different fishing season and a price.

Here is one of worst “do not buys”. Mixed salmon and trout, both with heads cut off.

salmon and trout

  • Atlantic salmon is a type not an origin.
    When somebody tells you “Atlantic salmon” it’s just a type of salmon not an origin. Actually Atlantic salmon is the main type of salmon farmed in Scotland. So always ask or check yourself about salmon origin.

atlantic salmon

  • Fresh salmon smells nice.
    Simply smell it. Fresh salmon has really magnificent pleasant fresh smell. I do not know any person who would not like it unless you have some fish allergy. But if for instance you smell any unpleasant of “dead fish” smell simply walk away from that place.
    Especially try to smell salmon head, because this is the first thing may go bad.
  • Whole fish is better then a fillet.
    I always buy a whole fish not a fillet.
    At first it’s cheaper.
    Second, after buying a fish since even couple of times filleting shouldn’t take more than couple of minutes.
    Third, when you buy a whole salmon nothing is wasted anyway. You can always do magnificent salmon soup from head and leftovers.
    But the most important thing whole fish will be always more fresh compared to fillet.
  • Look at the way salmon is cleaned.
    If you see a whole salmon but without head – walk away straight way. Head is the first thing to go bad and if seller cut it off the chances are the whole salmon is bad already.
    Look at the way salmon is cleaned in general. There may be nothing wrong is the whole salmon is covered in blood or “blind person” cleaned it, but I wouldn’t buy it for the simple reason that labour they used was way too cheap.
  • Good salmon looks nice.
    Skin must be shiny and bright — never matte. Eyes must be as clear as possible and protruding. White film on eyes means fish is not fresh. Overall appearance – it should look like a “solid fish” never tatty. Look at the gills – the fresher is the fish the brighter they are. What you looking for is the bright red colour and never dark brown.
  • The bigger the better.
    I always buy bigger salmon for few reasons. Even if you not sure about salmon type bigger types are normally more expensive. Biggest trout will never get to the size of biggest salmon. If salmon is farmed they feed it only to certain size – after that feeding the salmon is not profitable.
  • Male vs female salmon.
    Taste and size wise it really depends on type of salmon. Some types have a bigger female, some type have smaller. Some salmon type males have more fatty meat, but some type females have more fatty meat. So it all depends. Normally I prefer female salmon, but again it all depends. Regardless of type there may be not too much visual difference before salmon mating season except of males have a bigger and sharper heads compared to females. Also females have a bit more pink on the belly.
  • Do not embarrass yourself with silly things while choosing the salmon.
    Some people may tell you to touch the salmon and if it is fresh meat should bounce back. Yes it is true, but imagine if everybody will start touching fish with their dirty hands!!! Besides if you follow my advices above trust me you will get the freshest salmon possible.

Rest of the things really depend of type of salmon you trying to buy, but if you follow these simple steps above I can guarantee you will get best possible salmon.