British Columbia

So much salmon: preparing four species of B.C.'s favourite fish

B.C. Day barbecues and salmon go hand in hand. Here's a few ideas to make the most of this summer's available bounty.

Jenice Yu talks about the virtues of chinook, sockeye, chum and pink

Jenice Yu of Fresh Ideas Start Here explains 6:12

Vancouver seafood expert Jenice Yu has a number of recipes that make salmon species shine with flavour.

Yu came into the studio to show Gloria Mackarenko of CBC's Our Vancouver how to best prepare four local species of salmon. 


Pink salmon take on a lot of flavour. Don't be shy about loading up the whole belly of the fish with lemon and herbs. (CBC)

An abundant wild species, Yu stuffs pink salmon with fresh herbs and lemon slices and cooks the fish on the barbecue for about 15 minutes a side. 

She said pink salmon are reasonably priced too. "It's such a great price point, it doesn't break the bank," said Yu.


Candied salmon is a popular B.C. dish with roots in Indigenous cultures from the South Coast all the way to Alaska. (CBC)

This is a big as it gets in the salmon world. Chinook salmon break fishing records, with larger fish weighing in around 50 pounds, which is how it became known as a king salmon, though that moniker is more popular in Alaska and the United States mainland.

Because it is one of the first species to return to the river it's also known as a spring salmon. It's large girth makes it a prime candidate to be chopped into salmon steaks by your favourite fishmonger.

Yu also suggests smoking chinook and making it into a maple syrup flavoured candied salmon. Chinook's high fat content allows it to retain some moisture during the curing process, she said.

"I'm talking about the good fat, the good fish fat," Yu said.

Chum is cheap

Chum salmon runs start now and go into the fall. (CBC)

Chum salmon start showing up in the grocery store about this time of year and will become abundant in the fall.

The flesh won't hold its shape as well as chinook or sockeye, so barbecuing this fish whole or in steaks is your best shot at success. Yu suggested using a spatula to do the flipping, and doing it cautiously. Add flavour with herbs, garlic or your favourite sauce.


That deep red colour can't be replicated. (CBC)

Finally, the ubiquitous B.C. sockeye. This bright pink flesh packs the most distinct salmon flavour of the four listed here, but is certainly the most expensive.

While record-low runs of sockeye are driving up the cost of the fish this season, 2018 is likely to be a good year as the population returns from the deep ocean to spawn in four year cycles.

You can still find B.C. sockeye on the shelves this summer as fisheries all along the coast will open and close according to daily stock counts.

The raw truth

Yu opened Fresh Ideas Start Here — a seafood retailer — in 2008 with the goal of educating people about the bounty seafood available in our local waters.

A lot of people ask Yu if it's okay to eat raw salmon. It's not, she said.

The fish you get at the local poke or sushi joint has been flash frozen at temperatures cold enough to kill most bacteria or parasites.

When you buy fresh salmon, however, there's no way to guarantee it's safe for raw consumption.

Watch Jenice Yu in conversation with Gloria Mackarenko at the top of the page.

Our Vancouver