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Orca Bay Frozen Keta Salmon (Costco) Review

A hand holding a bag of Orca Bay Wild Keta Salmon frozen filets on a wooden table.

Author’s note: I wasn’t paid or compensated in any way for this review and I have no affiliation with  Costco nor Orca Bay Foods.

Don’t be mad.

The first time I tried this frozen Orca Bay Wild Keta Salmon, I was mad.

I was mad, because it was not what I expected. The flesh was almost white, and lacked the “salmon” flavor to which I am accustomed. I also found the strange firmness of the meat off-putting.

Fast forward two years later, and this fish has grown on me. I’ve adjusted my expectations, and maybe learned to cook it a little better. I’m glad I didn’t give up on it, because it has become a quick and nutritious dinner staple at my house.

Inside a bag of Orca Bay Wild Keta Salmon from Costco, showing the individually vacuum-sealed frozen filets.

Weird Confession: I enjoy this fish more if I pretend that it isn’t salmon. It tastes good, just not like any other salmon I’ve ever had. It’s the un-salmon-ness of it that disturbs, not the inherent taste. Just pretend you are eating a UDF: unidentified delicious fish, and banish all thoughts of “salmon” from your mind.

What is Keta Salmon?

Keta Salmon is also called “Chum Salmon” or “Dog Salmon.” According to Wikipedia, Keta Salmon is “the least desirable Salmon for human consumption” and has a low market value. Ouch. That alarmed me, so I dug a little deeper. It turns out, this is almost entirely because of taste, rather than low nutrition or quality.

The Marine Stewardship Council states that Keta has lower fish oil content compared to other salmon varieties. Even so, the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute lists the amount of Omega-3 per serving of Keta Salmon at 683 mg. This is only marginally less than Sockeye Salmon, which has 730mg per serving. Both salmon varieties have similar protein — 22 grams for the Keta, and 23 for the Sockeye. According to the Alaska Department of Health, all Alaskan Salmon is low in mercury, including Keta salmon. Whew.

(Want to know more? Here’s a handy comparison of Salmon species from MSC.)

Five vacuum-sealed portions of frozen wild keta salmon from Orca Bay, sitting on a wooden table.

Anyway. The Orca Bay frozen filets are individually vacuum-sealed for freshness. They’re also single-serve portions, which I prefer (as compared to Costco’s Mahi-Mahi, which is two servings per filet). The portions vary dramatically in shape and thickness, but are generally just shy of 5 ounces each.

A hand holding a frozen portion of Orca Bay Wild Keta Salmon from Costco over a black towel.

The filets have the skin attached. As you can see, the meat color is pastel pink, like a bridesmaid dress from the 1990’s. These are boneless filets, although I have encountered an errant thin bone here or there. From the label, the instructions say to thaw under refrigeration after removing the plastic.

A hand holding a thawed Keta Salmon filet from Orca Bay, over a white paper towel.

Quality and Freshness

Compared to other frozen fish I’ve reviewed, the Orca Bay Keta Salmon has a stronger “fishy” smell. According to the Los Angles Times, the freshest fish is the least “fishy” smelling. Still, this fish is not overly pungent. And, it doesn’t taste fishy after cooking. Additionally, the thawed flesh is fairly smooth, elastic — and the skin is moist, and not noticeably curled. I give it between an A- and a B+.

A raw Orca Bay Keta Salmon filet with dry spice mixture on top, sitting in a frying pan.

How to cook Keta Salmon

My favorite way to cook this fish is in a pan with a little butter and a red chili spice mixture sprinkled on top. I cook it on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes each side, then remove the pan from the heat and let it sit at least another 5 minutes before serving. I’ve found that the Keta salmon cooks better with lower heat, and that it will stay juicer inside if I let it finish cooking while resting. I peel the skin off after cooking.

A white plate with a serving of Orca Bay Keta Salmon over a curried yogurt sauce with a side of mixed vegetables and lemon slices.

I served mine over a curried yogurt sauce with a side of Kirkland Normandy Blend vegetables and fresh basil from my garden. How did I make the yogurt sauce? I’m glad you asked! It’s just Greek yogurt mixed with some dry curry spice mix, smoked paprika, garlic powder, cumin, cayenne, and a little salt. I don’t cook it or anything — I just mix it cold, and spoon it onto the plate. By the time the hot fish is placed on top, the yogurt is room-temperature and tastes amazing on both the meat and vegetables. Try it!

Inside a cooked Orca Bay Keta Salmon filet from Costco, showing the pale pink fish texture.

The cooked Keta salmon is extremely pale, almost white color. As previously mentioned, the meat is firm. It’s firmer than Mahi-Mahi. It can get dry if cooked too long, or at too high a heat — this is the issue I ran into the first few times I tried to cook it. Supposedly, this is because of the lower fish oil content. It also tends to get tough when microwaving leftovers. I definitely prefer to eat all of it in one sitting, when possible.

A forkful of cooked Orca Bay Keta Salmon from Costco.

The flavor is mild, so it won’t overpower the other flavors of your meal. The mildness also makes it versatile — it combines well with most seasonings and ingredients. For people who don’t like strong fish tastes, this may even be preferable. If you cook it right, it will be juicy and delicious. You will probably learn to love it, like I did.

But. Don’t get me wrong. If I didn’t save money by buying this fish, I wouldn’t buy it. I would always opt for a more flavorful choice, like Sockeye Salmon. Sockeye salmon is still my favorite fish in the whole-wide-world. I would eat Sockeye Salmon every single day, until it choked me. True story. But, the cost difference between this Keta Salmon and other wild-caught salmon is substantial. I am a slave to my wallet, it seems. More about the price later.

Nutrition Facts in Orca Bay Wild Keta Salmon

Nutrition Facts from a bag of frozen Orca Bay Keta Salmon from Costco.

These are 140 gram filets, which is a little less than 5 ounces. Each serving has 28 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat, and 170 calories. There’s also 30% of your daily value of Vitamin D per filet. Yay, Vitamin D!

Ingredients in Wild Keta Salmon from Orca Bay

Ingredients from the label on a bag of frozen Orca Bay Keta Salmon.

The ingredients from the label are:

  • Keta Salmon (Fish)

That’s it! The Orca Bay website states that this fish is wild caught in Alaska.

Price and Shelf-Life for Orca Bay frozen Keta Salmon

A 3-pound bag cost $23 at my local Costco. Since there are 10 filets per bag, this is $2.30 per filet. Per pound, this fish costs about $7.67. Compared to Costco’s Kirkland brand frozen Sockeye Salmon, that’s a huge savings. A 3-pound bag of the Sockeye Salmon costs $35. (You can read my review of Costco’s Sockeye Salmon here.)

I looked diligently for a “best-by” date on my bag of frozen fish, and I could not find one. There wasn’t one printed on the individually sealed filets, either. Maybe this fish never expires! Ha.

Dramatic Conclusion

I have bought at least three bags of this fish over the last two years (that’s 9 pounds!), so apparently I really like it. I intend to continue buying it, as long as it remains a good value and the same quality.

The end.

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