How to Tell Wild Salmon and Farmed Salmon Apart
With the exception of the Pacific Northwest, the majority of the filleted salmon sold in the United States is farmed Atlantic salmon
, not wild salmon. Chile, Norway, and the United Kingdom produce the majority of the world's farmed salmon
, followed by Canada and the United States. It can be difficult to distinguish farmed from wild fillets, except by price. Supermarkets often use Chilean salmon as a loss leader (at cost) as a sale item to attract customers. At times, there is a glut of farmed salmon on the world market, leading to inexpensive pricing.
The salmon's color is another indicator. Farmed salmon are fed carotene pigments to deepen their color, which gives them a deep orange hue. On the other hand, wild salmon vary tremendously in color, depending on the species, from a light pink (pinks) to a deep red (sockeyes).
Whole salmon, on the other hand, are easy to tell apart. A whole Atlantic salmon (the farmed choice) has a sloping head, and the spots on its back resemble little X's. By contrast, wild king salmon has a somewhat squat head, a black mouth, and round spots on its skin.
From the "Legal Sea Foods Cookbook" by Roger Berkowitz and Jane Doerfer, Illustrated by Edward Koren