Fresh salmon does not keep well so buy it the day you want to eat it, or at most, the day before. Do all other shopping first before buying fish, and get it into a refrigerator as soon as possible after buying it. On hot days, have the salmon packed in ice to keep it chilled in transit.
Look for salmon that is firm enough that it springs back when you touch the flesh. Salmon should be translucent and moist, but have no liquid pooling around it. The smell should be sweet, not fishy. Ask if the fish has been frozen and thawed, so you will know if you can freeze it at home. Avoid buying salmon at bargain prices. It often indicates the store’s effort to get rid of fish that’s less than fresh.
Canned salmon, a pantry staple, is available everywhere. Look for the fattiest variety, because it’s the tastiest.
Smoked salmon is best when purchased at a counter where it is freshly cut. Vacuum-sealed packs of smoked salmon are good if they have been properly stored in transit, so buy from reputable shops. Pick pre-wrapped salmon only in stores with a very high daily turnover.