Wild Washington king salmon gets waxed by Costco frozen, farm raised in blind taste test

Sep 26, 2013, 3:33 PM | Updated: 4:32 pm
Could you taste the difference? A noted panel of food experts picked frozen, farm-raised salmon ove...
Could you taste the difference? A noted panel of food experts picked frozen, farm-raised salmon over wild in a blind taste test. (AP file)
(AP file)

Most foodies would insist wild salmon tastes far better than farmed. So there’s plenty of surprise among even experts about a new Washington Post blind taste test that gave the highest marks to Costco frozen Atlantic salmon over wild Washington salmon and a number of other samples from around the world.

The Post enlisted a panel of experts including noted D.C. area seafood chefs and a seafood wholesaler, along with members of its award-winning food section. Noted chef Scott Drewno of the Source by Wolfgang Puck cooked the fish, steaming filets with just a little salt.

Farm-raised salmon gets a bad rap in many circles, but the taste test will likely change that.

“Although some samples had either the large flake and high fat content that gave them away as farmed, or the finer grain and meaty texture that identified them as wild, we could not consistently tell which was which,” writes the Post’s Tamar Haspel.

Topping the list was Costco’s farmed, frozen Atlantic from Norway, which sells for $6 per pound. Tasters gave the fish a score of 7.6 out of a possible 10 on their scale.

There was one important caveat. The Costco salmon was packed in a 4 percent salt solution, which many of the tasters said helped the flavor and texture.

But farm raised salmon was the clear cut favorite across the board, taking the top five spots. Trader Joe’s farmed Atlantic from Norway, which sells for $10.99 per pound, came in second with a 6.1 score.

Far behind was wild king from Willapa Bay, which came in sixth, scoring 5.3 out of 10. That’s not bad, but at $16 per pound and up, it led the panelists to conclude one thing is certain: “You’ll never catch any of us saying wild salmon tastes better than farmed,” said Haspel.

Does the test change what you’ll be buying for dinner?

Here are the Post’s overall rankings:

1. Costco farmed Atlantic, frozen in 4 percent salt solution, from Norway; $6 per pound (7.6 out of 10)

2. Trader Joe’s farmed Atlantic, from Norway; $10.99 per pound (6.4)

3. Loch Duart farmed Atlantic, from Scotland; $15 to $18 per pound (6.1)

4. Verlasso farmed Atlantic, from Chile; $12 to $15 per pound (6)

5. Whole Foods farmed Atlantic salmon, from Scotland; $14.99 per pound (5.6)

6. ProFish wild king (netted), from Willapa Bay, Wash.; $16 to $20 per pound (5.3)

7. AquaChile farmed Atlantic, from Chile; $12 to $15 per pound (4.9)

8. ProFish wild coho (trolled), from Alaska; $16 to $20 per pound. (4.4)

9. ProFish wild king (trolled), from Willapa Bay; $16 to $20 per pound (4)

10. Costco wild coho, from Alaska; $10.99 per pound (3.9)

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Wild Washington king salmon gets waxed by Costco frozen, farm raised in blind taste test