Why remove salmon skin?
Although wild salmon skin is a great treat when you crisp it up, you may want to remove it when you're steaming or poaching your salmon. That way, there is no barrier between the fish and the steam or water, and your fish will cook evenly. (We recommend that you save that nutritious skin, though. See below.)
Removing salmon skin is easy
Thaw your wild salmon fillet overnight in the refrigerator. You’ll want to use a sharp knife with a blade that is longer than the width of your fillet. A boning knife, utility knife or chef’s knife works well. The key to removing the skin cleanly and getting a really nice fillet is firm downward pressure with a knife held at about a 45° angle to the fish.
Put your wild salmon fillet skin-side down on your cutting board, with the narrow, tail-end facing you. This makes it easier for you to cut away from yourself, going from the smaller end to the broader end. Holding your knife at that downward angle, make about an inch-long slice between the flesh and the skin. You can now grip that freed-up skin to secure the fish as you carefully slice with small movements and firm pressure to separate the flesh from the skin. Stay as close to the skin as possible, so that the healthy salmon fat stays with the fish.
Or, start in the middle
Alternatively, if you’re going to cut up your fish into portions rather than leave it as a whole fillet, you can start in the middle. Slice straight down to the skin and then, angling your blade at that 45° angle, skin half the fish. You will then have that large piece of skin to grip when you slice the other half of the fish off the skin.
Your fish is ready to cook
Thoroughly pat dry your now-skinless salmon, and prepare for cooking.
Fry up the skin and use it for garnish
When making a skinless wild salmon dinner, we always fry up the salmon skin. It’s a tasty treat containing those healthy omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamin E and collagen (great for your skin), and is every bit as good for you as the salmon fillet.
Crisp it up in a hot pan with butter, salt and your favorite spices, and use it to spruce up salads, soups, potato or rice dishes. You’re sure to garner compliments with this garnish!
Prepare your salmon with confidence. Bristol Bay locals Apay’uq Moore and Susie Brito teach you how to remove salmon skin.