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How to Remove Pin Bones from a Salmon Fillet

Before cooking a salmon fillet, it’s always a good idea to check it for pin bones. These tiny “floating” bones aren’t attached to the fish’s main skeleton, and they remain hidden in the flesh after the fish is filleted. Some fish mongers remove them for you, but some don’t. Because pin bones can be difficult to see, the best way to locate them is by touch. Here’s how to find and remove them:


Step 1. Lay the fillet flat on a work surface and run your fingers down its length. If pin bones are present, you should be able to feel their tips.


Step 2. When you locate a bone, slide a hand under the fillet beneath the bone and lift the fillet slightly so it bends, causing the bone to protrude.


Step 3. Grasp the end of the bone with fish tweezers or needlenose pliers and pull slowly and steadily on the bone, wiggling it gently until it pulls free. Repeat until the fillet is bone-free.


Choose a tool

Pin bones are slippery, so you need a tool with a good grip to remove them. Many cutlery manufacturers sell fish tweezers that are specially designed for the task, and these work perfectly well. We like the fish bone tweezers from Chroma.

If, however, you’re the type who doesn’t like kitchen drawers cluttered with specialized gadgets, a pair of needle-nose pliers from the hardware store will do the trick, too. If you want to use them for other household jobs, just be sure to clean them well before and after.

Photos: Scott Phillips

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