Chinook Salmon (‘King’ Salmon)

Oncorhynchus tshawytscha

Other names: Blackmouth, black salmon, chub salmon, Columbia River salmon, hamana, hookbill salmon, king salmon, Pacific salmon, quinnat salmon, spring salmon, tyee salmon, winter salmon.

Family: Salmonidae (salmons).

Description:

These native of the Pacific Ocean around western North America and northeastern Asia (especially Japan) were introduced to Australia in the 1870s. Wild stocks are limited to Lake Purrumbete and Lake Bullen Merri in south western Victoria. They have however been farmed in sea cages in New Zealand’s Marlborough Sounds since the 1980’s and New Zealand is now the world’s major supplier of this species, marketing it as ‘king salmon’. Freshwater-raised fish look similar to rainbow trout, but lack the orange patch on the gill cover and stripe along the side, the skin is silvery becoming spotted and olive green towards the top, while those raised in saltwater are more silvery blue, looking very similar to Atlantic salmon but slightly paler with a smaller tail. The Latin name derives from the Greek onkos ("hook") and rynchos ("nose"), referring to the hooked jaw males develop in the mating season to fight off competitors.

Season: Available year round.

Size and Weight: In freshwater they grow to about 85cm and 8.5kg, though they can reach 150cm and 57kg. Commercially they are harvested at around 5kg.

Price: High priced.

Relations:

Other salmons (including Atlantic salmon); trouts (such as rainbow and brown trouts); char/charr (such as brook trout, marketed as ‘saltwater charr’ in Australia).

To Buy:

Sold whole (gilled and gutted), in cutlet, steak and fillet forms, fresh, smoked and cured as gravlax. Roe is also available. In whole fish look for lustrous skin with a slippery, mucilaginous coating, firm flesh, and a pleasant, fresh smell. In cutlets, steaks and fillets, look for orangey-pink, firm, lustrous, moist flesh without any brown markings or oozing water and with a pleasant fresh smell.

To Store:

Make sure whole fish is scaled, gilled, gutted and cleaned thoroughly. Wrap whole fish, fillets, cutlets and steaks in plastic wrap or place in an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months below -18ºC.

To Cook:

Average yield is 78%. Has a rich, distinctive flavour, high oiliness and moist, medium-textured flesh with large flakes and fine pin bones, which are easily removed. Saltwater-reared fish have a darker coloured flesh than that of Atlantic salmon, with a higher oil content and slightly softer texture. The edible skin can be left on. The centre bone of cutlets can be removed and a filling placed in the cavity. Score whole fish at the thickest part of the flesh, and cut thick fillets into serving-size portions, to allow even heat penetration. It can be served hot or cold.

Cooking Methods:

Steam, poach, pan-fry, stir-fry, bake, braise, grill, barbecue, smoke, raw (sashimi), pickle. An attractive fish cooked whole. Flesh has good gelling characteristics and works well in mousseline or minced for fish cakes and fish balls. The firm flesh holds together well in soups, curries and casseroles and can be cubed for kebabs. It is ideal served rare.

Goes well with:

Bitter and peppery greens (endive, radicchio, rocket, watercress), butter, capsicum, citrus, curries (especially Thai-style red curry), English spinach, garlic, mayonnaise, olives, pasta, sorrel, vinegar, wine (red and white).

Alternatives:

Atlantic salmon, sea-reared rainbow trout (‘ocean trout’), swordfish, trout, tuna, yellowtail kingfish.

Imports:

Imported chilled from New Zealand. Smoked salmon (from various species) is imported from Europe and North America.

Recipes:

Char-grilled Fish Kebabs > 
Char-Grilled Salmon Kebabs & Vegetables with Lime Mayo > 
Chirashizushi (Scattered Sushi) >
Fish Satay >
Gravlax (Salt-Cured Salmon) > 
Hand Moulded Sushi (Nigiri-zushi) >
Inside-Out Rolls (Ura-maki-zushi) >
Lemony Seafood Crêpes > 
Mixed Thin & Thick Sushi Rolls (Norimaki) >
Salmon Scotch Eggs >
Sashimi Salmon Salad >
Seafood Pie with Leek, Garlic & Chives > 
Seafood Teppanyaki >
Whole Poached Salmon with Cucumber Salad >

Smoked Fish
Cold-smoked Salmon Cigars with Horseradish Cream > 
Cold-smoked Salmon with Dill Crème Fraîche >
Cold-smoked Ocean Trout & Flatbread Rolls >
Hot-smoked Salmon Frittata >