If you love salmon you may not give much thought to which salmon you buy. Salmon is salmon, right? Oh sure I know you look for a quality product and you may prefer wild salmon over farm raised salmon (or maybe the other way around??). Beyond that, salmon is salmon. It has a bold taste and a buttery texture, and you like that.
But what if I’m wrong? What if you don’t like that bold flavor all that much? Maybe it’s just too fishy tasting for you. Do you feel like you’ve missed out on something when all your friends are raving about at the “good fat” in a serving of salmon?
That bold taste comes from a high content of fat (yep, the good kind your friends were raving about). It can also come as a pretty bold price point. So even if you love salmon and it’s bold flavor perhaps you consider salmon a luxury, something you can’t afford every day.
Well I’m here to solve both of these problems for you by introducing you to wild Keta Salmon from Alaska. It’s also known as Chum, Dog or Silverbrite salmon. I was recently sent a sample from Alaska Seafood. It gets a bad rap so I thought I’d do a little research to see if it deserves it.
According to the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, Keta is the second-most abundant salmon species in the north Pacific region. It ranks third in importance to the U.S. salmon fishing industry and is commercially fished from Oregon to Alaska, with the majority of the catch coming from southeast Alaska and Prince William Sound.
When it comes to salmon, this lesser-known, milder-flavored fish is underrated. Though I’m not sure why. This species of salmon is flavorful, sustainable– and affordable, too. Compared to King or Sockeye, Keta can be a real bargain. Fillets can easily be found at $5.99 per pound sometimes less. It’s not as common in stores and that may be why it’s so unknown to consumers. But I called three markets randomly and asked if they could get some Keta salmon and 2 out of the 3 said yes. One could even have it for me the very next day. Sometimes you just have to ask for what you want.
2011 Ravines Dry Riesling Finger Lakes
Pairs well with Asian foods, cheese, choucroute garni, duck, fish, fruit, pork, poultry, salad, shellfish, vegetables.
But what really interests me about Keta is the fact that its mild flavor and lower fat content means I can prepare this fish differently than I might other cuts of salmon. In fact you have to, otherwise the detractors who say it’s dry have a point. But with proper cooking (wet cooking in a flavorful broth I’d argue) there are options for this variety that are intriguing to a serious cook. Have you ever noticed that salmon is not a fish typically associated with S.E. Asian flavors, especially dishes that include the bold flavors and high fat coconut milk? That’s partly due to geography and it’s partly due to the fact that the strong, full-mouth flavors of most salmon simply don’t work with rich coconut milk based sauces. I think Keta is the exception however.
So that’s where I started with this recipe. However, Asian flavors such as curry, kaffir and hot peppers can easily dominate. I still wanted to highlight the delicate salmon flavor in Keta, so I used a light hand with all these flavors.
The fact that Keta salmon is so comparatively lean also means you have to be careful how you cook it. It’s mild favor makes it a natural for smoking. It’s also often grilled on wooden planks. As delicious as these methods are you really must serve it quite rare to keep it from being dried out. As I stated one of my goals today is to please the palate of those who don’t really like salmon (or think they don’t). Rare salmon is probably too much to expect a seafood neophyte to embrace. The best way to cook lean fish all the way through is with wet methods such as poaching or simmering. I chose to simmer mine in coconut milk and I think it’s a great choice for this Asian-Alaskan Fusion recipe.
The final hurdle I made this fish swim through is the all-important wine pairing. I asked my brother Grant to pair this dish with something that would highlight both the delicate flavor and texture in this dish. He suggested a 2011 Ravines Riesling from the Finger Lakes section of New York. It’s complex enough to change the way you think about salmon and it’s dry enough to change what you think you know about Riesling too. GREG
I stumbled across the keta salmon not even really knowing what I had bought. I am not a huge fan of salmon but trying to get to like them better. My sister bought them for me at Sams Club and she didnt really know what she was buying either. I kept putting off cooking them because I’m not crazy about salmon but when I did cook some of the Keta.….….…I liked it more than any salmon I’ve tried so far. Maybe its because it is low fat??? Anyway all I did was sautee the portions in butter a fry pan with skin side up for a little bit. Then I turned it over, put some spices on it, and baked it in the oven at 350 till it was done. Since it has been hard for me to get out to shop lately I thought I would go to the website of the people who caught them and there was no Keta salmon on there. So I started looking up some info about it and found that those who fish for salmon in Alaska had nothing but negative things to say about it. While other non fishery sites had better things to say. So I agree with this site.….….….….…what is the problem. They tasted pretty good to me. Just need to find a reputable place that sells them on line. Any suggestions?
I bought a package of frozen, individually wrapped Keta salmon pieces from Costco. i think, guessing from the size of the pieces, they did not get a chance to get that big. I was looking for wild-caught salmon, so i bought them. I melted butter in the baking pan, added garlic powder, ground pepper, and salt, dredged the Keta pieces on it, sprinkle mashed fried onion on top, cooked at 350 degrees, around 20 minutes or till cooked through … it came out tasty and delicious. I rather buy these than farm raised fish anytime. It was mild-tasting, not fishy at all.
I lived in the Midwest and we used to go trolling for salmon. As they say, the bigger the fish, the more it has accumulated stuff … just sayin’
This is an old post, but still pops up on Google for those of us looking for more info about keta salmon. So, I’m chiming in. I live in the midwest and bought my first keta salmon filet from a sustainable-focused Alaskan fishing company. Given what I read about it, it was better than I anticipated. I cooked it on a cedar plank, with an herb butter to finish. I took the smoke VERY well and didn’t dry out (cooked to about 144 degrees). It’s very mild in flavor otherwise (not at all fishy). I’m now eating leftovers on a spinach salad for lunch. So while I wouldn’t necessarily seek this out, it’s a perfectly fine tasting fish for those eating fish on a budget. Just like I’ve had horribly fishy cod and trout, I’m sure horribly fishy keta/chum/dog fish exists.
Silverbrite, Keta, dog or chum I have routinely cooked this creature in the oven or on a fire (gas or wood) coated with a mix of dijon or spicy brown mustard, horseradish and mayonnaise (sometimes incorporating a dry white wine, apple cider vinegar) and wrapped (tented really) in aluminum foil.
To dress it up pre-cooked caramelized onion rings, pre-grilled bell peppers, sliced tomatoes, (for color and taste) can be added on top.
Check the horseradish and verify it isn’t bitter, then make a mix that has the horseradish dominant and the mustard as a back flavor.
It has been very popular, so I guess these are caught in the ocean.
Bump an old thread. I fish. Chum is crap up river, delicious before it enters fresh water. Native Alaskans are right not to catch and eat it in rivers. Keta caught offshore is delicious. Just an opinion, not a food fascist like Mr Gehl.
Thank you. Very much enjoyed the recipe. Made a few substitutions (chili sauces instead of curry due a curry objector in the house). I enjoyed the coconut milk, and it’s pretty easy to follow. I did not wait long enough for the skin to break away from pan, but still enjoyed the meal.
On the great “dog fish” debates, I’m surprised about the objections. On the scale of decent salmon it goes (from low to high) Pink, Chum/Dog/Keta, Coho/Silver, King/Chinook, and Red/Sockeye. This gets proven out based on prices, with the exception of King due more to people’s fascination with it’s size versus it’s culinary appeal. Pink… blech. And this really comes more from the people I socialized with during my time working the canneries and fisheries in Alaska during my college, than my experience. I pretty much enjoy all salmon (though I avoid pink).
I also heard they call it dog fish, because that is what the locals feed their dog. Interesting to see some say it’s cause of their teeth.
Amazing how often when I go out and ask what kind of salmon they serve at a restaurant the reply is usually something like Atlantic, or Alaskan, like that tells you the actual type of fish you will get.
I tried Keta Salmon seasoned with a cajun rub for the first time and it was a promotional already seasoned one I purchased from my local grocer and it was delicious. No fishy taste and definitely not dry. I will eat it again and again. Don’t believe the nay sayers, try it for yourself.
Being from a Roman Catholic family in the mid-west, I grew up having fish on Fridays, the non Catholics called us Mackerel snappers. Most folks don”t think Mackerel is much worth eating either.
I would always prefer wild caught Alaskan sockeye but can’t always afford it , I have tried the Keta Salmon and find it quite palatable guess some folks are just picky,Oh by the way we eat Hog-nuts here too!
Though I’m not a fan of chum (aka keta, dog, or the more marketable name of silverbrite), I do think anyone that likes salmon should at least try it and see if it works for them. Can’t beat the cost compared to the others. And I have eaten worse tasting fish than chum. I will say I have never tried it the same day after being caught out in the ocean, rather all I have eaten has been fresh from the grocery stores or smoked versions. Keep an open mind, try it once and if you don’t like it then just don’t buy it again. I should say though, at about the same price point I would much rather buy (really good tasting) fresh Pacific Rockfish over fresh chum salmon any day. In fact I do.