The definitive guide for removing salmon skin.
Richie said it best: fish skin is the ocean’s potato chip. It may seem counterintuitive, but leaving that slimy skin attached to your fillet (and cooking it properly) can actually elevate a dish far beyond what you might expect. We’re talking tender, flaked salmon — but with a salty, crispy bonus.
That said, there are plenty of wonderful recipes that call for salmon with the skin off (like this salmon crudo, or these salmon temaki), so if you find yourself needing your salmon’s skin removed, we come bearing good news: it’s not hard to do. Getting a nice, clean cut is a matter of the right knife and a little patience. Be sure to read our tips and tricks and watch Richie’s video to learn how.
Remember that your fish will taste great whether or not it looks perfect, so don’t obsess over technique. Give it a shot (or two) when you get your next share and you’ll be a pro in no time.
5 Tips for Skinning Salmon
1. Use a sharp knife, preferably a fillet knife.
This is no occasion for a paring knife, or a serrated knife meant for bread. You want something longer than the width of the fish and smooth enough to ensure its delicate flesh stays intact. We like fillet knives from Opinel, but any long and slender knife will do. Just make sure it’s sharp and has some flex to the blade.
2. For thinner cuts of salmon, or tail-end salmon, cut from the end.
If your fish has a tapered tail end (see video), make a straight cut through the fish about ¼ inch away from the end. Do not cut through the skin — just the fish. Place the fish next to the edge of the cutting board or counter so your hand and the knife handle hang off. Unobstructed, you’ll be able to ensure a consistent angle as you cut. Angle your knife downward at 15-20° degrees and glide your blade through the fish to separate the meat from the skin. Salmon skin is tough when raw, so stretch it a little to get a cleaner cut. The angle is important, though: too high and you risk cutting through the skin; too low and you risk removing too much meat.
3. For thicker cuts, cut from the thinnest part.
Fortunately, skinning thicker cuts of salmon is much like skinning tail pieces. Find the thinnest part of the fish and make a small incision under the skin, about a ¼ inch in depth. You may want to flip the fish over skin-side up to make this initial cut. Once you’ve created a small flap, proceed as you would in step 2: angle your knife down at about 15-20 degrees and glide your blade through, making smaller cuts if need be. Salmon is buttery and rich and will do most of the work for you, so don’t worry!
4. What about the gray stuff?
The gray stuff under your salmon (sometimes called the bloodline) is actually just fat — insulating fat, to be specific. We’re happy to report that not only is it delicious, it’s also full of healthy omega-3s, so you don’t need to worry about removing it. However, if you’re planning on eating your fish raw, remove it for a cleaner look and texture, as well as to avoid its strong taste when uncooked.
5. Remove pin bones.
To make sure our catch is fresh when it reaches your table, we don’t remove pin bones. It’s really simple to do at home and requires only a good pair of tweezers or spring-loaded pliers. Read our pin bone removal guide. Don’t skip this step!