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How to Remove the Skin from a Salmon Fillet

Learn how to remove the skin from your salmon fillet in the final video of a 4-part Howcast series with Chef Brendan McDermott.


So what we're going to do is we're going to skin a salmon filet. This technique is pretty much used for all fish. Some of the smaller fish, you just need to use maybe your thumb and your index finger. Some of the bigger fish, even as big as large 100-pound tuna, you may have to wrap your arm around the whole skin and do this. But no matter what size, it's all pretty much the same process.

So what we're going to do is we're going to take our boning knife, our filet knife. Make sure that the piece of fish is lined up as close to the edge as you can possibly get it. The reason why we do that is that we can now then have a little bit more leverage and drop the knife flat down with the board itself or with the table, giving us a little bit more leverage. If your knife comes up or flattens out too much, you can go into the meat and lose tons of product. If you cut it too much, you go into the table and then you end up with the skin still on there.

So what we're going to do is we're just going to take our knife and draw a little bit of like a handle on the back of the fish, pretty much just coming in at about a 45-degree angle. I don't want to waste a lot of meat; I just want to make sure that I can get a little bit of a grip on there. Now what I can do is I can take my knife and turn it and make a couple cuts the other way. One, two, three. And you can see I'm already down to the skin.

Once I'm there, I've got this nice little handle I've created. With some of the bigger fish, you might want to just kind of poke a hole into the skin a little bit so you can get your finger in there, pretty much just have a little bit more leverage. That's about it. So that you can have a little bit of a grip.

And then all we're going to do is once our knife is underneath and kind of on the table at about a 15 to 20-degree angle, we're going to take our skin, and we're not going to pull up. We're not going to zip it out because then we'll crush the meat. All we're going to do is just take it and go back and forth gently, trying to keep the knife pretty still. And what that's going to do is kind of keep the knife along the skin and release the meat from it.

Once you have a little bit more distance, you can get a good grip on there. And again, just keep following through. And then you should be able to pretty much remove the entire skin and have a nice filet. A little bit of that silver skin is OK. That's not really, that's just the inside, nothing wrong with that. Totally edible. Now you have your nice skinned filet.

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