Have you ever caught yourself in a situation when you’re in your kitchen preparing a seafood dinner and realized that you have no knowledge or experience in scaling salmon? It’s not a glamorous task, but this guide will help you through this process in the most friendly and straightforward way possible.
Dealing with salmon scales might seem like a daunting task, but it’s a skill that will level up your seafood game.
In this article, you will learn why salmon scales are not edible, and how to properly and effectively remove them. You may find that removing scales on salmon skin is easier than you think!
Does Salmon Have Scales?
In general, almost every fish species has scales. Fish scales are small, hard, flat plates that cover the majority of a fish’s body. The scales overlap to create a type of protective armor because fish skin can bruise easily.
Most people are not sure whether or not salmon skin contains scales because many fisheries and stores sell them with the scales removed. This essentially makes life easier for customers, because it is a messy business to descale salmon.
Can You Eat Salmon Skin?
Fish skin is a popular part of a salmon fillet, and sometimes it’s prepared on its own as crispy skin. Even then, it’s best to remove scales from the salmon before cooking the skin.
The scales on any type of fish are not edible nor appetizing. Furthermore, the characteristics of salmon scales are hard as fingernails and razor-sharp like teeth.
Eating fish scales can easily slice open your lips, tongue, or gums. If that is not terrifying enough, the scales can get lodged in your throat!
So, can you eat the salmon skin, even with scales? Under no circumstances should you eat salmon skin that still has scales on it. Always make sure that all the scales are properly removed before any cooking process.
How To Remove The Salmon Scales
There are different popular methods to descale salmon, but do know that they are all messy. Let’s begin with a procedure I use to manage the mess and what your setup should look like.
How to Reduce Mess
When you descale salmon fillets or a whole fish, the scales will fly everywhere! I will warn you that you may still find scales weeks after you’ve “cleaned everything.”
Fish scales are transparent and practically invisible to the eye. They will get stuck to surfaces and disappear completely! Do not be surprised if you accidentally stumble upon them again!
I recommend removing the whole fish or salmon fillets into a large basin. You can clean your bathtub with food-safe detergents, and line it with big plastic bags.
If you have an open backyard or outdoor food-prepping station, you can line it with plastic.
Using any type of large sink, basin, or tub will help make the clean-up process significantly easier. Remember to pat your salmon dry with a paper towel before you begin.
Now, you will need a cutting board if you are not working in a sink. If you are working in a sink or basin, make sure it is clean.
Next, you will need gloves. I always recommend wearing gloves when scaling fish, because salmon scales are sharp, difficult to remove, and will fly everywhere.
Finally, you will need a sturdy, hard knife. By this, I mean that the back of the knife blade shouldn’t be flexible. A boning knife works best.
Knife vs. Fish Scaler
Although using a knife will accomplish the job, if you plan to scale your salmon skin often, investing in a quality fish scaler is best.
Always be careful since both tools are sharp, and the salmon can be slippery. Be sure to scale the salmon before cooking it.
Method 1: Using a Knife
The method of using a knife to remove the scales is pretty easy.
Rub the back of the knife (not the sharp side) against the scales of your salmon fillet, and push in the opposite direction of the scales. If you are scaling an entire fish, start at the tail and work your way to the head.
You will immediately notice a bunch of scales collecting on your knife blade. Just keep cleaning it off and work in small sections at a time. Make sure you do not miss any areas.
For a whole entire fish, keep working your way up and around. You will notice the difference in areas that have fewer scales than others, such as underneath the belly, but do not skip any areas.
Method 2: Using a Fish Scaler
There are many different types of scalers available. Some can help with reducing the mess you will create. This set of fish scalers is my personal favorite!
The technique of using a fish scaler is exactly the same as using the back of a knife. The only difference is that scalers are a little easier to use, and generally descale salmon better.
A fish scaler is a specialized tool with a specific function. It’s the same concept as removing the pit of the cherry. A cherry pitter makes it easier.
Do You Remove Salmon Scales Before Or After Cooking?
When you cook salmon or any fish, always remove the scales. No exceptions! It does not matter if the process is very tedious, time-consuming, and messy. It will make your cooking process a lot easier.
Trust me, you do not want salmon scales cooking into your food! You do not want to have a perfectly cooked salmon destroyed because you spent over twenty minutes struggling to remove the scales after it’s cooked.
That entire picture is a total nightmare! The same goes for eating salmon scales on your fillet. As I mentioned earlier, it is dangerous to eat salmon scales. Be sure to remove it from the skin before you cook your salmon for any recipe.
To sum it up, it is not appealing at all to scale salmon, but it’s an essential step to ensure a safe and enjoyable dining experience. Remember that salmon scales are not edible, and trying to cook or consume them can lead to unpleasant consequences.
Now you have the knowledge of how to remove scales. Whether you prefer a knife or a fish scaler method, be prepared for a bit of mess. Always properly set up your workspace, and use s cutting board or lined basin, to reduce the amount of cleanup later.
Yes, all fish have scales on their skin, including salmon. The scales at the grocery store and fisheries are removed before they are sold. This saves customers a lot of trouble from having to remove them.
It is not recommended to eat the scales on a salmon. Always remove the scales before cooking and place the scale side under cool running water to remove any invisible scales still on the flesh.