Taking the mystery out of salmon (Wait... there was mystery?)

If you’re serious about salmon, you have to start with selection. Finding the right seafood source is a marriage in the making, and if you want the freshest product every time, a go-to shop is key. Your go-to should be one of convenience and quality. I'm including mine below because, well, why not!

In my neighborhood, few seafood markets can rival that of Santa Monica Seafood on Wilshire Blvd. I’m lucky enough that it’s just down the road from my house in LA, and — in my humble opinion — carries some of the freshest seafood on the West Side.

At Santa Monica Seafood, it’s never a case of whether or not they have salmon available, but which of the five or so types are you going to choose? After much trial and error, I’ve definitively landed on Atlantic (although Steelhead deserves an honorable mention), and I can all but guarantee you’ll have success heading in that direction. Although, as we’re developing recipes here at Outside Table, be prepared for us to dive in a whole lot deeper into the various options — OT style.

To streamline the selections for you, I’ve put together a little index. There are seven types of salmon, and it probably goes without saying that anything not in the Atlantic category is going to be a Pacific salmon.

Atlantic - Typically found in the Northeastern United States, this fish is farm-raised, mild and delicate. It may also arrive via Scotland, and it's growing in a number of other areas, too.

King - You might know this one as Chinook, likely because it’s widely served in restaurants due to it’s deeper texture, flavor and higher fat content. Not only does it make a perfect kitchen cook, it’s great over charcoal as well.

Steelhead - Though traditionally milder, this one can vary in depth of flavor. It’s usually much cheaper than King, or even Atlantic, because it’s technically a trout (but it falls under the same species classification as salmon). Though, trust me, if your store has a good source it can be a truly delicious steal — see what I did there?

Sockeye - With its distinct bright orange color, Sockeye is a little more “gamey” or “fishy” than the others. This is a favorite of sushi chefs and is excellent as a smoked salmon dish.

Coho - A lighter, less fatty salmon that is best when gently cooked (read: poaching or steaming).

Pink -  Find this one in most canned salmon products, as it's generally light in fat.

Chum - Not a super flavorful fish, but it is known for its roe.

There you have it – salmon mystery solved. So where to from here? Two words: exploration and experimentation. While my family doesn’t care for the fishier taste of Sockeye, I’m certainly excited to traverse the various paths to find its sweet spot. That said, our next cook is definitely going to star King salmon, and when we do dive in, it will be straight to the grill with the help of our trusty Friday Fennel Crusted salmon recipe: two tablespoons of Fennel Friday instead of one to get a nice flavorful crust to match the fish’s big flavor. If you want to try it for yourself, use our original recipe or our slightly modified version, below. Either way — pics please!

Friday Fennel Crusted Salmon



2 King Salmon filets

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons Friday Fennel by Outside Table.


Coat salmon with olive oil and then rub with Friday Fennel. Cook the salmon 4-5 minutes per side, or to your preferred temperature. Makes two servings.

This cook is ideal for a hot grill, but you could use a skillet or oven at 425°F for the same time. Serve with roasted broccolini, cauliflower or bok choy and a twist of lemon or lime to enhance the freshness!