How To Remove Salmon Skin Before Cooking
You’ll want to read on if your recipe calls for salmon with the skin removed. Learn how to remove salmon skin in less than one minute. All you need is a cutting board, a sharp knife and a fresh salmon fillet.
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I learned how to remove fish skin when I was 17 years old and worked my first restaurant kitchen job as a prep cook. We had a walleye sandwich on the menu, so we went through a lot of fish! Once I learned how to take the skin off, it became one of my daily tasks. Long story short: I spent the summer skinning fish after fish after fish!
I’m sharing this basic cooking skill as part of our In The Kitchen Series. It is a technique that can be used for any fish. However today we’ll be focusing on salmon for our step-by-step tutorial. After all, it is one of our favorite proteins here at Healthy Seasonal Recipes! Try our very favorite Crispy Pan Seared Salmon!
Equipment: What You’ll Need To Deskin Salmon
Cutting Board: Place the cutting board down on a sticky mat to hold it in place and keep it from slipping. I use a square of shelf liner or a wet towel works great too.
Needle Nose Pliers: If your salmon fillet has the pin bones in it, you can use (clean) needlenose pliers to pull them out.
Kitchen Towel: It is optional to use a kitchen towel, or paper towel, to help you get a grip on the slippery salmon skin.
Knife: Chef Jon trained me on skinning fish with a Chef’s knife and to this day it is my preferred knife to remove skin from salmon. In culinary school, we used our boning knives, but I still prefer the wider blade of Chef’s knife for this task.
Tip for beginners: When you are learning how to remove the skin from fish for the first time, try it with a slightly dull Chef’s knife. If your knife is super sharp you can inadvertently cut through the skin when you press down on it.
How To Skin Salmon Step-By-Step
Usually, your butcher or fishmonger will remove the pin bones from your salmon, but sometimes you’ll find they haven’t. It is important to remove them first before removing the skin and portioning the fish.
If your fish still has the pin bones in it, remove them now by pulling them out with your pliers. Pull in the direction they are running or they will break.
Start with the salmon filet, skin-side-down, running crosswise on the cutting board. If you have a tailpiece (shown) you’ll want it pointing toward your non-dominant side.
Cut between the fish and the skin to “get it started.” This primary cut is meant to reveal enough of the skin so that you’ll be able to grab ahold of the skin with your non-dominant hand. You may need to cut through the flesh of the fish for this first cut, to get the knife down to the skin surface.
Now, grab ahold of the salmon skin with your left (or non-dominant) hand, and pull firmly away against the pressure of your knife. If it is too slippery, use your kitchen towel to help.
Your knife should be at a slight angle downward (here’s where having a slightly dull knife is helpful!) Gently saw the knife back and forth as you exert pressure downward and to the right while pulling the skin forcefully to the left. I like to think of it like your knife isn’t really moving forward as much as you are pulling it through your knife!
Now that you know how to cut skin off salmon, you can use the fillet whole for recipes like Baked Salmon in Foil or you can cut it into portions. Make sure to check out our favorite Dill Sauce For Salmon too!
FAQs and Expert Tips
Yes, you can eat salmon skin. Make sure to remove any scales if using salmon with the skin on. Salmon skin can get nice and crispy, which many find appealing. It does have a stronger more fishy flavor than the salmon meat itself.
You may notice a grayish layer of flesh on the skinned side. This is normal and perfectly edible. Typically in restaurants, this side is plated face down because the other side is prettier.
Unless you are trying to prepare crispy skin salmon, we recommend removing the skin from the salmon before cooking. However, you can wait to remove it from the salmon once it is cooked.
What happens if I cut through the skin by mistake?
When you are first learning how to skin salmon fillet, you may end up cutting through the skin by mistake. The best thing to do in this case is to try to keep going with the cut you have started and then fix the area you missed after the fact.
Once you take your initial sweep and find that there is still a little skin left on, flip the salmon skinned-side up. Use a sharp thin boning knife. Hold it horizontally and shave away any skin that you missed. Try not to cut downwards too much.
Salmon Recipes To Try
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Happy Cooking! ~KatiePrint
How To Remove Salmon Skin
- Total Time: 6 minute
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
Here are the basic steps to skin a piece of salmon. Follow along if your recipe calls for salmon with the skin removed. All you need is a cutting board, a sharp knife and a fresh salmon fillet.
1 boneless salmon fillet
- Start with the salmon filet, skin-side-down, running crosswise on the cutting board. Make a primary cut to reveal enough of the skin so that you’ll be able to grab ahold of the skin.
- Pull skin firmly away against the pressure of your knife. If it is too slippery, use your kitchen towel to help. Holding your knife at a slight downward angle, gently saw the knife back and forth while pulling the skin forcefully in the opposite direction.
- Prep Time: 1 minute
- Cook Time: na
- Category: Knife Skills
- Method: Knife Skills
- Cuisine: French
- Serving Size: 4 ounces
- Calories: 150 calories
- Fat: 5 g
- Saturated Fat: 1 g
- Protein: 25 g
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