What is the difference between coho and Atlantic salmon?

Answered by Phillip Nicastro

When it comes to differentiating between coho and Atlantic salmon, there are several key factors to consider. Coho, also known as silver salmon, is a species native to the Pacific Ocean, while Atlantic salmon is primarily farmed. Let’s explore the differences in taste, appearance, and availability between these two types of salmon.

1. Taste: Coho salmon is often described as having a milder flavor compared to Atlantic salmon. It has a delicate, slightly sweet taste that pairs well with various seasonings and sauces. On the other hand, Atlantic salmon has a richer, more pronounced flavor that some people find stronger. The taste of salmon can also be influenced by its diet and habitat, so there may be variations within each species.

2. Appearance: Coho salmon and Atlantic salmon can be differentiated by their physical characteristics. Coho salmon typically has a lighter, more vibrant color compared to the deeper orange hue of Atlantic salmon. The flesh of coho salmon is usually pink to reddish-orange, while Atlantic salmon tends to have a more intense orange color. However, it’s important to note that the color of salmon can vary depending on its diet and other factors.

3. Availability: Coho salmon is primarily found in the Pacific Ocean, particularly in North America, from Alaska down to California. It is a popular fish among recreational anglers and is also commercially harvested. Atlantic salmon, on the other hand, is predominantly farmed and can be found in various regions worldwide, including North America, Europe, and Chile. This farmed salmon is more readily available in markets throughout the year.

4. Health Benefits: Both coho and Atlantic salmon offer numerous health benefits due to their high omega-3 fatty acid content. These fatty acids are known to have positive effects on heart health, brain function, and inflammation. However, it’s worth mentioning that farmed Atlantic salmon may contain higher levels of contaminants, such as PCBs, compared to wild-caught coho salmon. It is generally recommended to choose wild-caught salmon whenever possible for maximum health benefits.

In my personal experience, I have found that coho salmon has a more delicate and subtly flavored flesh, which I enjoy when I want a lighter and less intense salmon dish. On the other hand, Atlantic salmon has a bolder taste that stands out in dishes where I want a stronger salmon flavor. Additionally, I appreciate the convenience of being able to find Atlantic salmon year-round at my local market.

The difference between coho and Atlantic salmon lies in their taste, appearance, availability, and farming practices. Whether you prefer the milder flavor of coho or the richer taste of Atlantic salmon ultimately depends on personal preference. Both types of salmon can be enjoyed in various culinary preparations, so I encourage you to explore and experiment with different recipes to find your favorite.