Learn all about the different types of salmon that are used for smoking, and what makes them deliciously different.
Atlantic Smoked Salmon
Atlantic smoked salmon is a very broad category that can include many different types of smoked salmon which is found throughout Northern Europe, and on the Eastern Seaboard of North America. Buyer Beware! Because Norway originally pioneered Atlantic salmon farming, smoked salmon from all over the world is labeled –incorrectly- Norwegian smoked salmon.
Pacific Smoked Salmon
A category used to describe different species and types of salmon usually found in the Pacific Ocean, most commonly from Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, and Canada. The most popular Pacific salmon found smoked in stores are:
- King Salmon/ Chinook, also called the spring or king salmon, with ivory white to deep red flesh. Also called Canadian King Salmon.
- Chum: also known as dog salmon – for its canine-resembling teeth-, also known as Keta (an Asian aboriginal name). Their flesh ranges from pale to medium red in color. These are the least common of the Pacific species of salmon.
- Coho (Silver): Coho, or silver salmon, is known for its red color flesh.
- Sockeye (red): Sockeye, also known as red salmon (and also sometimes labeled Nova, after the style used in its smoking process), has a bright and deep red-orange, firm flesh.
- Pink (lumpback): Known as humpback or humpie, is the smallest and most common of the North American Pacific salmon. It has a light-colored flesh, and a delicate taste, with a low fat content.
Types of Cured and Smoked Salmon
of the German and Scandinavian words for salmon. Lox was a
technique of preserving salmon popular during the 19th Century
and early 20th Century, where wild Pacific salmon was cured
in brine very heavy in salt (there was really no smoking involved).
The result was a very fishy flavor, which later went out of
style and popularity. Today, “lox” is used to
describe basically any type of smoked salmon, Nova, Nova Scotia
smoked salmon, belly lox.
Nova is a term that usually refers
to a wet-cured, lightly salty farmed smoked salmon. The fish
could come from anywhere, and the flavor is very mild and
not very salty. The name owes its origins to the wild Nova
Scotia Atlantic salmon, a fish species that was over fished
This delicious prime cut of smoked
salmon refers to the top portion (tenderloin) of the fish,
carefully hand-cut and trimmed, lightly smoked and salted
for the most perfectly crafted smoked salmon product. You’ll
only find this at very sophisticated specialty stores, as
it is pricey (but worth it).
A specialty products, gravadlax
is salmon that has undergone a traditional Scandinavian curing
technique in which the salmon is marinated in a mixture of
dill, sugar, and special herbs, then cleaned, filleted, and
the mixture removed. The salmon is then lightly smoked for
full flavor. The term ‘gravadlax’ is literally
“salmon from the grave”, as the northern peoples
would bury the salmon underneath the earth throughout the
Alaskan Smoked Salmon
A species of salmon
found wild in the cold waters off Alaska. Widely available
due the large numbers and sustainable populations, this salmon
can also be classified as Pacific smoked salmon. Also known
as the King salmon, and can be found wild or farmed. They
are typically hot smoked, using traditional Native American
techniques. Its texture varies, depending on the brining process,
but most prefer to have it silky or firm.