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How to Remove Pin Bones from a Salmon Fillet

Learn how to remove pin bones form your salmon fillet in the third video of a 4-part Howcast series with Chef Brendan McDermott.


So what we're going to do is we're going to pull out pin bones on the fish.

This, again, can be used for just about any process, whether it's striper, snapper, salmon, anything that has those big, long pin bones. All you really need are some nice needle-nose pliers. You can spend some money and go to a fancy home cooking store and spend money on fish pliers, but you can go to any hardware store and get some needle-nose, and they'll do the job. I actually like them better.

So, what we're looking for is pin bones. The pin bones are these kind of weird little bones that kind of run off the side of the ribcage, and they only go about halfway through the fish. So, to find them, what you want to do is you want to run your finger against the grain, so starting up at the neck and going down toward the tail, and you just kind of run your fingers down and you'll feel these little, almost like little stubble. You just kind of feel these little pieces sticking up. And all you're going to do is take your needle-nose, go up to those little stubble pieces, and pull out with the grain. So kind of go with it, going toward the head, or where the head would have been. And you can see, they'll come right out.

And again, you can feel it with your finger, and pull right out.

You want to be careful. On some of the bigger fish, or the ones that have really strong, thick pin bones, like wild striped bass and stuff, you might want to keep your fingers down on the filet a little bit, so as not to tear the meat or rip it up.

On some of the bigger fish, as well, it's actually easier to take the pin bones out once you've skinned it. If you like salmon skin and striper skin, you're just going to have to tug a little bit more, but otherwise, go for it. You should be able to just push down on it for some leverage, take your needle-nose, and pull them right out. They'll come right out.

These are pretty big so they're pretty easy to find. Some of the smaller fish, you may have to work at it, but you can really ruin date night if you don't get any of the pin bones out, so really try and get those out. And then you can take your finger, run back over it, and really make sure you get them all out. There we go. They should look a little bit like that.

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