Wild King (Chinook) Salmon

Kimg Salmon Flavor Scale

Fresh wild King Salmon is the largest of all the wild Pacific salmons, having the highest omega-3 oil content and most velvety texture. It is a delicious, rich-flavored fish which lends itself to a wide variety of cooking applications.

King Salmon Flavor Profile

King (Chinook) Salmon is a succulent full-flavored high fat content fish which has large, soft-textured flakes, and the flesh can range from almost white to pink to deep red. The color of the flesh has no bearing upon its flavor. Compared to Sockeye, Chinook has a higher fat content and therefore a more luxurious texture, and its flavor is a little less “wild” or robust. It is like the difference between a filet mignon and a new york steak…both are equally good, it’s a matter of personal preference as to which you enjoy more.

Typical Cooking Methods

  • Bake
  • Broil
  • Deep-Fry
  • Grill
  • Poach
  • Saute
  • Smoke
  • Steam
  • Sushi

Sushi Health Code Notes for Salmon

These are notes from the Washington State Health Code, the health codes in your region may be different.
Wild salmon for sushi should be frozen following these guidelines to kill any potential parasitic larvae:

  • frozen and stored at -20° F (-4° C) for a minimum of 7 days (168 hours), or
  • frozen at or below -31° F (-35° C) until solid and then stored at that temp for a minimum of 15 hours, or
  • frozen at or below -31° F (-35° C) until solid then stored at -20° F (-4° C) for a minimum of 24 hours

Aquacultured salmon for sushi can be served fresh (never frozen) under the following circumstances:

  • they are raised in open-water net-pens, or
  • are raised in laned-based systems such as ponds or tanks
  • and are fed a formulated feed (such as pellets) which contains no live parasites
  • (I don’t quite understand these distinctions for aquacultured fish as it seems to allow virtually all aquacultured fish! Very minimal standards. Apparently, the parasite issue is much more prevalent among wild fish.)

Proper documentation for sushi products

  • If freezing the fish in-house, documentation must show the temperatures and time held at each temperature for all product
  • If frozen product is purchased from a vendor then supporting documentation from the vendor is required stating temperatures and time held at each temperature for all product
  • Fresh aquacultured fish must have supporting documentation from the vendor stating the fish was cultivated according to the standards stated above.
  • All documentation must be kept for 90 days

Alternate Names

Chinook Salmon, Blackmouth Salmon, Spring Salmon (a British Columbia name), Smilie, Tyee, Jack Spring (immature Chinook).

Chinook (King) Salmon Description (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)

Chinook SalmonImage courtesy BCSalmon.ca

Chinook Salmon are the largest of the wild Salmon species. Average commercial weight is 11 – 20 lbs but they can reach over 50 lbs. Fish in the sea are dark greenish to blue-black on top of head and back, silvery to white on the lower sides and belly; numerous small, dark spots along the back and upper sides and on both lobes of caudal; gum line of lower jaw black.

In freshwater, with the approach of the breeding condition, the fish change to olive-brown, red or purplish, the color change being more marked in males than in females. Follow the link for a video on how to identify species of salmon.

King Salmon Availability

Fresh seafood availability chart: green areas show peak availability, light green show limited availability, gray indicates not available fresh.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec


King Salmon Butchering Yield Percentage and Recovery

Item To Skin/On Fillets To Skin/Off Fillets Notes
Whole Head/On gutted 4/7, 7/11 68% – 70% 64%
Whole Head/On gutted 11/18, 18-Up 71% 67%
Whole Head/Off gutted U-10 68% 71%
Whole Head/Off gutted 10-Up, 18-Up 69% – 73% 64% – 66%
Skin/On Fillets 85% If you have additional yield info on this fish please leave a comment below.
Yield % varies according to a number of factors including: size of fish, season, sex, and the skill of your fishmonger.


How to Fillet Chinook Salmon

Pacific Seafood’s professional fishmonger Suzie demonstrates how to break down a wild king salmon. She has won competitions for speed and accuracy, but for this Chefs Resources tutorial video I asked her to go slow so others could learn her skill.

Range and Habitat

King Salmon Range & LocationAquaMaps Data sources: GBIF

Chinook Salmon are found from the Pacific Arctic southward to southern California in the Eastern Pacific and to southern Japan waters in the Western Pacific. They stay at sea for up to 5 years before returning to their spawning grounds. Other Salmon return to their spawning grounds after 1 to 3 years.

King Salmon are farmed in the waters off Chile and New Zealand.

Typical Wholesale Products

Whole Head/On, gutted, 12/18 lb; Whole Head/On, gutted, 18 up; Head/Off, gutted; Skn/On Filets; Skn/Off Filets; Steaks.

King Salmon Sustainability Info

Name Alternate Names Catch Method Catch
Chinook King Salmon, Blackmouth Salmon, Spring Salmon Wild – Drift Gillnet, Purse Seine, Troll US – Alsaka Green-icon_20.png Green-icon_20.png Green-icon_20.png Low
US – CA, OR, WA Yellow-icon_20.png Red-Dot_20.png Yellow-icon_20.png
Canada Green-icon_20.png Yellow-icon_20.png
Roe Ikura Wild – Drift Gillnet, Purse Seine, Troll US – Alsaka Green-icon_20.png n/a Green-icon_20.png Low
Canada n/a n/a Yellow-icon_20.png
Disclaimer: The sustainability info above is accurate to the best of our knowledge. However, each program randomly updates their information without our knowledge. We therefore recommend that you verify the current accuracy of this information.
Green-icon_20.png = Best Choice/Recommended     Yellow-icon_20.png = Good Alternative     Red-Dot_20.png = Avoid/Not Recommended Updated
August 2013


Nutritional Information

based upon a 6 oz (171 grams) raw edible serving.

* Calories/Calories from fat 309/154
* Protein grams 34
* Fat grams 17
* Saturated fat grams 8
* Sodium milligrams 47
* Cholesterol milligrams 113
* Omega-3 grams 2.7
more King Salmon nutrition info


Comments from before Site Migration

MAGICOFSPICE    [ Jul 15, 2010 ]

This is great information and probably my favorite food source in the world:) I was actually not aware that it had the highest omega-3 content. I do adore the texture of this guy and is a household favorite.


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