What Sets Sockeye Salmon Apart from the Rest

Deckhand Logan holds a sockeye salmon aboard the F/V Ava Jane in Bristol Bay, Alaska. 

What are the health benefits of sockeye salmon?

There are five main types of salmon; thankfully, each species of salmon benefits our health and wellbeing. Wild for Salmon sells all five species of wild-caught salmon: king, sockeye, coho, keta, pink. Sockeye is the most abundant in our fishery in Bristol Bay, Alaska - and has the health benefits to match. You may have also heard this fish referred to as “red salmon.” The high levels of Omega-3’s present in wild-caught sockeye salmon explain why fish, and particularly salmon, is known as a “brain food.” Research shows that consuming fish with high levels of Omega-3s, such as sockeye salmon, may even stave off depression. Omega-3 fatty acids are also the nutrients that support good heart health, and sockeye salmon is full of them. More specifically, the high levels of Omega-3s found in sockeye salmon defend against coronary heart disease by decreasing blood vessel inflammation and supporting the overall vascular system. All types of salmon are high in protein, but it’s the sockeye that packs the most punch. 

Where can you find them?

This special salmon species, the sockeye, can be found all over the North Pacific Ocean, with a habitat stretching as far south as the Deschutes River in Oregon to northern Alaska waters. You can learn more about this type of salmon and its history by watching The Breach, a documentary film about the Pacific Northwest’s salmon. The most productive region of the wild-caught sockeye salmon’s habitat is Bristol Bay, Alaska, where we spend our summers fishing. This region of Southwest Alaska hosts the world’s largest commercial sockeye salmon fishery. On average, 38 million sockeye salmon return to the five rivers of Bristol Bay annually. Supporting this prolific and abundant salmon “run” is not only good for the economic viability and environmental future of the fishery, it’s also great for your health. Wild salmon is healthier than farm-raised salmon because it has the right kinds of fats to support brain health while the farm-raised fish is higher in saturated fat, inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids, and calories.

sockeye salmon portions
It is true that both farmed and wild salmon are lean sources of protein and a good source of omega-3s, but wild-caught salmon has more of the types of fats we consider brain-healthy. The fattier farmed raised salmon fillets also put consumers at risk because of the possible high-levels of PCBs, a man-made chemical. The most obvious detriment to farm-raised salmon is the limited diet of the fish; because they are not eating naturally occurring algae and other organisms lower on the food chain, synthetic carotenoids are often added to their food. Furthermore, the farmed fish are typically raised in crowded net-pens where disease is prevalent, meaning antibiotics and other unnatural additions are also prevalent.

Our mission at Wild for Salmon is to offer natural, sustainably harvested salmon products of superior quality at a fair price. Bristol Bay remains to be the only wild salmon run completely unmanipulated by humans, save for close management and commercial fishing. We are proud to be part of the Bristol Bay fishery and the pristine environment that produces the world's largest salmon run. 

When is sockeye salmon season?

This doesn’t mean, however, that the sockeye salmon are abundant on the whole Pacific coast all year long. All types of salmon are anadromous fish, meaning they spend their “adult years” at sea then return to the freshwater upriver to spawn, usually within just meters of where they were first hatched. In Southwest Alaska, the return upriver begins in late May every year. The salmon make the run upriver to spawn in one the five rivers that feed into Bristol Bay. On average, 38 million sockeye salmon return to the rivers annually after spending three formative years living, eating and growing out in the wild Pacific Ocean. The fishing fleet harvests these wild-caught salmon mid-June to mid-August in the bay before they reach fresh water, when their fat content is highest. If sockeye salmon were athletes, these wild-caught fish would be meeting our nets in the prime of their career. As soon as the fish are caught in our gillnets, they come aboard and are immediately brought down to a temperature of thirty-two degrees then within mere hours we send them off to be flash-frozen so these pristine, wild-caught salmon can be fresh for you and your table all winter long. 

bristol bay sockeye salmon habitat map

How to best cook sockeye salmon

The possibilities are endless for cooking sockeye salmon. Our recipe pages have a little something for everyone: some are healthier than others, some are more simple. The sockeye salmon is known to be a versatile salmon because the flesh is not as delicate as other types of salmon and can withstand grilling, but it is also flavorful enough to be enjoyed poached or simply baked. Some recipes savor the flavor of the fish and leave it as the main attraction, and others marry the impressive flavor of the sockeye salmon with the flavors of your garden or spices of the world.

Healthy eating is not the only benefit of eating salmon, the preparation versatility is truly endless. You can fry salmon in your trusty castiron skillet for just a few minutes each side in coconut oil with just salt and pepper. You can bake a fillet or portion at 350 in your oven’s middle rack until the fish becomes opaque and starts to flake apart. Try it in a burger patty form and throw it on the grill, again just 1-2 minutes each side here. (Steve loves the Spicy sockeye burger as an addition to his morning egg sandwich). The fat content in the sockeye is high enough that smoking enhances the flavor and doesn’t dry out the fish; try a brown sugar brine and get the smoker fired up! Smoking salmon is a long-storied tradition in Bristol Bay, but you can also check out Steve’s recipe to try it at home. All of these options are delicious, but the lower heat options preserve the health benefits of the salmon the most, according to nutritionist Annie Fenn

smoked wild caught sockeye salmon

Does it fit your diet?

Sockeye salmon is a protein worth ear-marking for any and all diets and eating habits. Sockeye salmon can be a leader in the keto diet. With some wild-caught sockeye salmon as your base protein, you’ll be able to find many recipes to make an entire keto-friendly meal. 

Although our facility does not operate under the Kosher supervision, sockeye salmon is a Kosher fish. In our research, we have found that scaled and finned fish can be considered kosher, and that salmon, even when skinned, can be considered kosher because it is unmistakably salmon. The Orthodox Union explains, “we still endorse the idea of buying skinless salmon [without scales visible]. So long as the consumer is familiar with what salmon is supposed to look like, we are not concerned that another fish will be substituted for salmon which is not kosher.” 

Our vacuum-sealed packaging and perfectly portioned fillets also support meal prep, kid meals or cooking for just one. If you’re feeding a family each evening, you might want a box of fillets. If it’s just you, try a box of portions and thaw just one out a few nights a week. 

No matter your diet, the benefits of wild-caught salmon are tremendous. We believe wholeheartedly in salmon benefits that we founded a business on it. Our kids are growing up on this fish, and we want you to have the chance to enjoy
the same good health wild-caught salmon provides

sockeye salmon benefits product photo

Learn more about ordering some of our sockeye salmon here! The salmon benefits don’t end with health - we offer a Wild For Salmon guarantee because we are committed to providing you with the best quality, best tasting, wild-caught and sustainable seafood products. Check out your opinions for ordering sockeye salmon here!

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