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How to Skin a Salmon Fillet

Fine Cooking Issue 57

Although most fish sellers will skin salmon fillets for you if you ask, it’s easy to do it yourself. If you need skinless single-portion size fillets, buy one or two large pieces of salmon and skin them before slicing into portions. Figure on losing about 2 oz. of total weight per pound of fish once skinned.

Step 1. Run your fingertips up and down the center of the flesh, feeling for tiny pin bones. If you find any, use a pair of needle-nose pliers or tweezers to yank them out.



Step 2. Position a cutting board near the edge of the counter and put the fillet, skin side down, on the board, close to the counter edge. This set-up prevents knuckle-scraping. Beginning at the tail end of the fillet, work the edge of a sharp, long and narrow slicing knife between the flesh and skin. If you don’t have a tail end, start at one corner of the fillet and work your way in until the knife is between the skin and flesh all the way across one short end of the fillet.



Step 3. With your free hand and using a paper towel for better traction, grasp the just-freed end of skin and pull on it as you simultaneously run the knife down the length of the fillet (in the-opposite direction that you’re pulling). Keep the knife angled slightly down toward the skin, and use a very slight sawing motion if necessary. The skin should come off in one piece, but if it doesn’t, flip the fillet over and trim any errant patches of skin.


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