You just bought a beautiful salmon filet at the grocery store, but when you bring it home you’re shocked to find that when you flip it over, it’s covered in a layer of beautiful silver scales.
This is the salmon skin. You may be wondering… is it safe to eat salmon skin? Or should you remove it before cooking your delicious salmon?
Can you eat salmon skin?
The simple answer is… yes! You can eat the fish skin just as you can eat the flesh of the fish. Not only is it edible, it tastes quite marvelous. If pan fried or baked, it’s crispy and full of flavor.
The taste of salmon skin is fishy and salty, but a stronger flavor than the salmon itself. It has a richer flavor due to its higher fat content.
Risks of eating salmon skin
A diet high in saturated fat can potentially increase risk of heart disease, so this is something to consider. That being said, skin-on salmon is only marginally higher in saturated fat, so it’s not something to really stress over.
Along with this, skin-on salmon is higher in sodium compared to salmon with the skin removed. This can be an issue if you struggle with high blood pressure, which can be exacerbated with a high sodium diet.
Another one of the potential risks is food safety. Raw salmon skin can contain harmful bacteria such as salmonella and vibrio vulnificus.
Nutrition information collected from cronometer.com using the entries “Salmon, King or Chinook, Kippered, with Skin, Alaska Native” and “Salmon, King of Chinook, Raw, Alaska Native”.
Health benefits of salmon skin
Along with the potential risks of salmon skin, there are several nutritional benefits. First, it’s a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, a kind of polyunsaturated fat that is beneficial for heart health.
The nutrients in skin-on salmon can also contribute to healthy skin, brain health, eye health and bone health. Overall, salmon is a very nutritionally dense food, and consuming it with the skin on can contribute even more nutrients.
Nutrition information collected from cronometer.com using the entries “Salmon, King or Chinook, Kippered, with Skin, Alaska Native”.
So what exactly are those nutrients? Well let’s jump into it. Three ounces of skin-on salmon contains around 180 calories, 20 grams of protein (making it a good source of protein), 0 grams of carbohydrates and 11 grams of fat.
Along with this, it’s a good source of B vitamins, copper, phosphorus, potassium and selenium. It also contains some vitamin D and zinc.
Overall, skin-on salmon can be a good source of essential minerals and vitamins. The vitamin D also helps to increase the absorption of calcium in the body, which can contribute to good bone health.
Popular varieties of salmon
There are several popular varieties of salmon. You will likely find at least a few of these varieties at your local grocery store.
- Atlantic Salmon: Widely farmed, mild flavor.
- Pacific Chinook/King Salmon: Rich, buttery, and prized.
- Sockeye/Red Salmon: Deep color, robust flavor.
- Coho/Silver Salmon: Mild flavor, often used for grilling.
- Pink Salmon: Smaller, milder taste.
- Chum/Keta Salmon: Firmer texture, mild taste.
- Steelhead Trout: Similar to salmon, often called “trout”.
- Ora King Salmon: Premium New Zealand salmon.
- Wild Alaskan Salmon: Diverse flavors depending on species.
- Scottish Salmon: High-quality, distinct flavor.
Be sure to check to see if your salmon is farm-raised or wild-caught. While the differences aren’t massive, wild caught salmon tends to be slightly lower in saturated fat compared to its farm-raised counterpart.
Who should avoid salmon skin?
You may want to avoid salmon skin if you have any chewing or swallowing difficulties since the texture is very chewy. Along with this, you will want to completely avoid raw salmon skin if you are a pregnant woman. The risk of foodborne illness is too high in this population.
How to remove salmon skin
To remove salmon skin, place the salmon filet skin side down on a flat cutting board. Use a sharp knife to slowly remove just the skin of the salmon. As you are cutting off the skin, use one hand to hold the end of the skin and gently pull as you cut it off.
Recipes using salmon skin
The best recipe to make using salmon skin is a crispy salmon skin. Once the skin is removed from the salmon filet, heat up a light layer of cooking oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the salmon skin and fry until golden brown.
You can also fry a piece of skin-on salmon. Be sure to fry the salmon on the skin side to get that nice crispy layer.
Salmon skin chips are another good option. Use the same method as the crispy salmon skin, just cut the salmon skin into smaller pieces and fry until hard and crispy.
You can use salmon skin chips as a salad garnish or eat them by themselves.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is skinless or skin-on salmon healthier?
It’s hard to say since it largely depends on your health goals as well as your unique nutritional needs. Skin-on salmon is slightly higher in saturated fat, so it may be the less healthy alternative if you are at risk of heart disease.
Is farm-raised or wild-caught salmon healthier?
Wild salmon may be marginally healthier than farm-raised salmon. This is because wild salmon is slightly lower in saturated fat. That being said, wild-caught salmon may have slightly higher levels of contaminants (like mercury), though both versions are considered to have low levels of mercury.
Should I take the skin off before or after cooking?
If you want to remove the skin from the salmon, I would recommend removing it before cooking. Leaving it on during cooking and then removing it will leave a layer of fat. That being said, salmon is great with the skin on, so if you like the flavor, keep it on!
How often can you eat salmon?
You can eat salmon about 2-3 times a week, or up to 8-12 ounces per week. It has low levels of mercury, so you can consume it more often than fish like shark, swordfish or certain varieties of tuna. In fact, salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and has plenty of health benefits.