Silver salmon, also called coho salmon, is part of the Pacific salmon family. It is the in-between salmon—not too big, not too small; fatty but not the fattiest; firm but not the firmest; pricey, but not nearly the priciest salmon you can buy. So, as Goldilocks would say, it's "just right."
During the months of July to October when it is in season, you will find silvers available fresh and frozen, headed, gutted and sold in fillets.
Coho salmon has a mild flavor and a medium texture. You can use silvers in any typical salmon recipe, but definitely, think about poaching or sauteeing when you find yourself with some of this great tasting salmon.
Silvers' Season and Stats
Silvers are caught from Oregon to Alaska, and typically run starting in June and last until September. In the ocean and when they first appear in rivers, they are a pretty chrome color with silver sides and dark blue backs. But they turn deep red when they head upstream to breed. Once they turn this shade or develop that crooked mouth you may have seen, coho salmon are basically inedible.
Most silvers are between 8 to 12 pounds, although there are records of silvers beyond the 30-pound range that have been caught. Their meat is orange—like most salmon—from the krill they eat at sea. A coho will not be as orangey-red as a sockeye or a king; it'll be about the same color as a farmed Atlantic salmon.
Perfect for Poaching and Smoking
Eating wise, silver salmon have less fat than sockeyes or kings, but more than pinks or chum salmon. This means a coho can dry out faster than the other species, making coho salmon an ideal poaching fish. Their relatively low-fat content benefits from the gentle cooking, which keeps it moist.
Silvers are perfectly good smoked, although perhaps not as good as kings or sockeyes. You need to use a cold smoking process instead of a hot smoking process due to the fish's lower fat content. Silvers also do well as gravlax, the Scandinavian cured salmon, and they are great as sushi—as long as you bought it frozen or put it into the deep-freeze for a few days to maintain freshness.
Super to Slice and Sautee
A favorite way to cook silver salmon is to slice it into cutlets, then lightly dust it with flour, and saute it in walnut or olive oil. This would be delicious served with a French rouille sauce. Silvers benefit from this sort of cooking, while kings might feel too greasy done this way.
You can also slice the skin of a coho (or any other salmon) into thin strips and fry them slowly until they're crispy. This is a great way to enjoy a healthy part of the fish—it typically has a thin layer of fat on the underside, which is loaded with healthy omega-3 fatty acids.