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Salmon farming is illegal in the state of Alaska, so all fish are wild; and while over-fishing reduced catches to about 20,000 fish a year in the 1970"s, careful conservation has brought sustainable catches up to 200,000. Hatcheries, protecting wild smolt from predators for their first few months, are allowed.
In the past, most Alaskan salmon has been found in Britain only in tinned form, but supplies of fresh have been appearing for some years.
Unlike the one species of Atlantic salmon there are five species of Alaskan, and these go under a variety of names -
Coho (Oncorhynchus Kisutch): this is sometimes called "Silver Salmon". These have pink to orange-red flesh, and are particularly good when smoked.
Keta (Oncorhynchus Keta): sometimes known as "Chum", "Dog", "Fall" or "Silver-brite" salmon. The nickname dog salmon comes from the fact that fish develop canine teeth when breeding, also possibly as they were so common they were fed to huskies. They have firm pink flesh.
King (Oncorhynchus Tschawytscha): also known as "Chinook" or " Spring" salmon. These are the largest Alaskan salmon, and have been caught at over 100 lbs; although 15-20 lbs is more usual. Excellent red flesh and high oil content.
Pink (Oncorhynchus Gorbusha): also known as "Humpback", "Humpy" salmon. These generally weigh from between 2-6 lbs, as as would be expected, have pink flesh - they aren"t so highly regarded as the other species, and most are canned.
Sockeye (Oncorhynchus Nerka): also known as "Blueback" or "Red" salmon. These have a distinctive red colour, and are highly regarded. They have a high oil content and good flavour.
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