Welcome to PLAN! It’s here that we’re going to teach you all kinds of things to demystify anything we can think of that might get in the way of you living your healthiest possible life. We decided a great first mission would be this Smoked Salmon Buying Guide to accompany our recipe for a Smoked Salmon Sushi Bowl with Avocado Rice.
In this Smoked Salmon Buying Guide, we’re going to take you through the most important things to know about smoked salmon so that next time you hit the grocery store, you’ll feel confident in picking out your best smoked salmon option.
There are two primary methods to smoking salmon: hot and cold. They’re just about how they sound. Let’s compare.
- Smoked at a higher temperature
- More fully-cooked fish look and texture
- Stronger smoked flavor
- Slow and low: smoked at a lower temperature for a longer time
- Won’t look like a cooked fish (more similar to sushi salmon or lox)
- Milder smoked flavor
- Nutrients are preserved
That last bullet point is exactly why we prefer cold-smoked salmon. When hot-smoked at higher temperatures, many of the nutrients are cooked out of the fish. Cold-smoking preserves the nutrients, healthy fats, and omegas that salmon has to offer.
the winner is: cold-smoked
You’ll see two options on how salmon are raised: wild-caught and farm-raised. Wild-caught means these fish are, well, wild. The salmon are out living their fish-lives in the ocean until someone catches them and they end up in your smoked salmon buying options. Farm-raised are salmon that are bred for production in captivity.
- Wild fish, typically caught near Alaska
- Smaller than farm-raised salmon
- These fish eat their natural vegetable diets in the ocean so they’re higher in nutrients that are good for you too
- Bred for production
- Do not eat natural diets for fish
- Less natural diets aren’t good for the fish or for you
We always always always recommend wild-caught salmon (you’ll also see the term “sockeye”). It’s not only better for you—it’s better for the environment too.
our pick: wild-caught salmon
There are two ways to season salmon in order to preserve the fish. One is with salt, the other is with both salt and sugar. Sugar is totally unnecessary for preserving the fish and there’s no reason to add more sugar to your diet in this case. Salt does it all—preserves the fish and gives all the flavor you need.
look for ingredients that don’t list sugar
grocery tips for buying smoked salmon
You’re at the store. In the fish section. It’s game-time. You’ve got this. Remember: our three keys to buying smoked salmon are cold-smoked, wild-caught, no sugar added.
Let’s go through what we encountered at the store so you can better understand our yes and no process.
We first checked out a Duck Trap Smoked Salmon option. Big yes to wild-caught sockeye on the label. Checking out the ingredients list, we noticed cane sugar was on there. Pass!
This option by Whole Foods Whole Catch was also wild-caught sockeye. Love it. However, it’s hot-smoked (which cooks out our salmon’s nutrients). Pass!
Our second Whole Foods Whole Catch option was cold-smoked so it caught our eye. Buzzkill: it’s farm-raised. PASS!
Lastly, we came upon another Whole Foods Whole Catch Smoked Salmon. This one was cold-smoked (yes!), wild-caught (big ups), and there was no sugar listed in the ingredients. WE’LL TAKE IT!
The cold-smoked, wild-caught, no sugar added smoked salmon will always be the one that ends up in our shopping basket. We hope this Smoked Salmon Buying Guide means it’ll end up in yours too!