Atlantic Salmon

Salmo salar

Other names: Salmon.

Family: Salmonidae (salmons).


A native of the northern hemisphere, it is only available farmed in Australia. It is a versatile fish, hatched and reared in freshwater until 70-100g, then transferred to sea cages in saltwater or estuaries. It is farmed mainly in southeastern Tasmania, although there are some inland, freshwater farms in Victoria, primarily to supply roe. In its native habitat it inhabits cold streams, rivers and lakes, draining into the Atlantic Ocean, swimming out into the ocean seasonally and returning to freshwater to spawn. It was introduced to Australia in the 1960s and aquaculture began in earnest in the mid-1980s. It has a rather short jaw, scattered dark spots on the upper body and a forked, plain dusky grey tail. Fish farmed in saltwater tend to have silvery grey skin, while those farmed in fresh or brackish water tend to be more golden to olive-brown.

Season: Available year round with peaks from October to mid-March.

Size and Weight: Usually harvested at 3-6kg and 65-80cm, but can grow to 40kg and 150cm in the wild.

Price: High priced.


Other salmons (such as chinook salmon, marketed as ‘king salmon’ in Australia); trouts (including 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 widely 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. 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).


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


Chilled chinook (‘king’) salmon is imported from New Zealand. Smoked salmon (from various species) is imported from Europe and North America.


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 >