If you’ve recently bought a salmon steak from the store and you’re getting ready to cook it, you might wonder why the skin and scales are often left on the fish. Can you eat those as well? Most people remove the skin before cooking, taking off the scales as well, but why?
The skin has the same nutrients and proteins as the main fish, so it seems wasteful to cut it away if you don’t have to. Many people enjoy the texture of fish skin, especially when cooked nicely, so you might be looking at it and wondering whether you can eat salmon skin that has the scales still on.
Can you eat salmon skin with scales? Yes, you can eat salmon skin both with and without the scales. Many people find that they need to learn to cook it well to make the most of both of these things, but there are benefits to eating the skin and scales, and of course, this is a great way to reduce your food waste and maximize the value of the foods you cook.
What are the Benefits of Eating the Salmon Skin and Scales?
It may not surprise you to learn that salmon skin and scales contain lots of goodness. Collagen, for example, is a major component of the scales, and this is important to the makeup of bones, tissues, skin, and tendons. By eating salmon scales, you are maximizing your collagen intake.
The salmon skin is an excellent source of omega-3s, which is one of the key reasons that many people choose to eat salmon (and other fish) in the first place. It also contains vitamin B and vitamin D, and some other key minerals that are useful to people. It is thought that the skin may have higher concentrations of omega-3 than any other part of the fish.
Plenty of people choose not to eat the skin because it’s easy to remove (and descales the fish at the same time), and because in some recipes, it can turn soft and unappetizing. If you are steaming or boiling your fish, you may find that it becomes soggy and rubbery. In these cases, it’s best to remove it.
However, if you are going to roast or fry the fish, the skin becomes crispy and delicious, and can be infused with lemon or herbs to enhance the flavor. It also helps to keep the fish moist and succulent, and can trap goodness in it that might otherwise be lost.
What Might Make the Salmon Scales Unappetizing?
The texture of the scales is the biggest problem that many people have with them. They are dry and hard, and can stick in your throat. They make an otherwise soft fish crunchy, and not necessarily in a good way.
However, many people enjoy the texture of the scales, especially the small ones. If you are used to eating them, you may barely notice them.
Recipes that maximize the crunchiness of the fish, such as roasting, may be the best way to ensure that salmon scales are incorporated into the dish nicely. This should help to blend the two textures, rather than making the fish soft and scales crunchy. When baking or grilling salmon, the scales can help to keep the fish skin tender.
You may need to try a few different recipes to find a way in which you enjoy salmon with its scales on – and many people simply don’t enjoy it in any circumstances. Remember, you can always peel the skin off once the fish is cooked if the scales don’t appeal to you, so don’t worry about creating waste; your dish will still be edible.
How Can You Remove Salmon Scales and Leave the Skin?
You can fairly easily remove scales from salmon, even if you don’t have any special equipment; a knife is all you will require.
First of all, make sure that the fish actually has scales. They are shiny and hard ridges, and you should be able to see them on the surface of the skin. In salmon with the scales removed, you are more likely to be able to see a diamond pattern on the skin, while the scales conceal this in other salmon.
Once you have determined that there are scales, you will need a knife. Lightly scrape your nail across the fish to find out where the edge of the scales is. In one direction, you should feel them lifting as you get your nail under the edges.
This is the angle you want to remove them from. Slip the edge of the knife under the scales and just gently rough them up until you see them coming free. It is easiest to do this over the kitchen sink. It helps to run water over the fish while you do this; this will wash the scales away and prevent them from getting all over you and your dinner.
Keep scraping until you are left with a smooth skin, and then rinse the fish and you can cook it as normal.
How Can You Remove Both the Scales and the Skin?
If you want to remove the skin and the scales and just eat the pink flesh, that’s easy too. You can cut away the skin using a sharp knife when the fish is raw, or you can peel the skin off very easily once the fish has been cooked.
Many people find that it is easier to remove the skin from cooked salmon. All you need to do is tease the tip of a knife under one corner and gently peel it back away from the fish. It should come free very easily, in one whole piece, and can be discarded or cooked into another recipe.
Cutting it off the raw fish can be harder, and may require some practice!
You certainly can eat salmon skin with scales, but many people who are not used to the scales find them challenging at first.
Try a few different recipes to find one that appeals to you, and don’t worry if it takes a while for you to get used to the idea. You can always remove the scales or even both the scales and skin once you have cooked the salmon.