Orange-Pink Salmons and Trouts

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
The characteristic color of the salmons is due to a chemical relative of the carotene pigment that colors carrots. This compound, astaxanthin, comes from the salmons’ small crustacean prey, which create it from the beta-carotene they obtain from algae. Many fish store astaxanthin in their skin and ovaries, but only the salmon family stores it in muscle. Because farmed salmon and trout don’t have access to the wild crustaceans, they have paler flesh unless their feed is supplemented (usually with crustacean shell by-products or an industrially produced carotenoid called canthaxanthin).