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Jun 9, 2008 02:29 PM

Questions re Great Lakes Salmon vs Salt Water

I don't think I've ever experienced truly wild Pacific Salmon, okay, maybe dining out, but never on our counter. Coho, Chinook and Kokanee (Pink) Salmon are readily available on the Lakes, and they are an amazing treat. I'm mildly curious as to how our catches here differ from Pacific fresh-caught as an eating experience fresh out of water.

However, I am more curious in treating my catch.

Can fresh-water salmon be cold-smoked or used for gravlux or sushi? Can anyone with authoritative experience comment on this?

And is the roe edible if cured how?

Your comments are appreciated.

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  1. I have cold smoked salmon(Chinook only) from Lake Ontario and the Pulaski River in NYS many times.
    There is a disntinct difference IMHO from Pacific wild salmon(which I have also caught and cold smoked).The NYS salmon seems to be less favorable (more mild tasting?)

    1. I go on at least one fishing charter for salmon/ lakers/ browns every year on Lake Michigan. Saltwater salmon and freshwater salmon are worlds apart. Their diets are completely different and they produce a different type of flesh because of it. Great Lakes salmon are FAR more lean because of their diet which consists of alewives. Ocean salmon are mostly feeding on shrimp which produces a much fattier, tastier, flesh. Sushi with lake salmon? Go ahead. Good luck to you. I would assume it will taste a LITTLE muddy, and be a tad chewy. For health issues, look it up yourself. The roe would surely be edible if salt cured, but, again, lake salmon and ocean salmon live different lifestyles. Lake salmon I would compare more to a trout than ocean salmon.

      My one rule of thumb for dealing with "the catch" is to eat as much as you can within two days of catching it. Having ultra fresh fish is a rarity, and an absolute treat. Vaccuum seal any that you won't use right away. you can freeze some in a ziplock for a few weeks without it turning into "frozen tasting fish." After a few weeks, if it's not vaccuum sealed, it's going to be horrible. AFISHN says cold smoking works fine, I have only heat smoked mine. I haven't found a place to get mine cold smoked, and I don't have the patience to do it myself.

      1. Can't reply as to Great Lakes salmon, but we have plenty of landlocked king salmon (aka kokanee) here in California. Tasty fish, but much closer in flavor to trout than to their ocean-faring brethren.

        I don't have any authoritative experience, but as a general rule fish that have been in saltwater are considered safer to eat raw than freshwater fish. It has to do with environment (and parasites), not genetics, so I'd proceed with extreme caution eating Lake Erie salmon sashimi.