Enjoying Perfectly Cooked Salmon Skin

Giving salmon skin a chance; how to cook and eat this crispy treat.

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The Crispiest Salmon Skin

Serves: N/A • Prep Time: 30 seconds • Cook Time: 2-5 mins

Salmon Skin Hand Roll

Serves: 2 • Prep Time: 7 mins • Cook Time: 20 mins

Straight from the Forq Kitchen!
by Rachel Silver


Enjoying Perfectly Cooked Salmon Skin

Once Upon a Time

I was on a date with a guy who cooked me salmon for dinner. I was ecstatic – if it’s not abundantly clear, I LOVE salmon.

Then I found out he had never tried salmon skin.

Date. Over.

Ok ok, I’m not that absolute. Retrospectively, perhaps I should have been. But that’s neither here nor there. Getting back to the story.

I, of course, made him try the salmon skin—I wouldn’t take no for an answer. The look on his face as he gagged it down was priceless: attempting to maintain dignity and grace (he was on a date after all), while doing a poor job of hiding the primal must-spit-this-out-now!!!! urge. He managed to swallow his bite, and then chalked it up to eating “fish flavored caramel.”

Yeah—that does sound pretty gross. I proceeded to try a bite, and indeed it was not cooked properly—it lacked that glorious (and necessary) CRISP! But, sorry dude, it was nowhere near reminiscent of the amazing gooey-chewy-hurts-your-teeth yumminess of caramel.

So what can we take away from this story?

He clearly was not in the know about how to make scrumptious salmon skin. But who can blame him—many people won’t touch salmon skin with a ten-foot pole.

I’m here to change that.

The Misconception about Salmon Skin

It’s slimy. It’s gross. You’re not supposed to eat it.

False. False. False.

Salmon skin, when prepared properly, is crispy and delectable.

There are two kinds of people in this world, those who love salmon skin and those who have never tried salmon skin.

I love salmon skin, but I understand that the pre-cooked scales might turn people off from trying something new. Therefore I take it upon myself to change this.

The challenge: make salmon skin appealing.

GAME ON.

Work with me here, since you might be trying something for the first time. I applaud your courage! But one bite is all it takes to be transformed into a fellow salmon skin aficionado! I promise it’s worth it.

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who love salmon skin and those who have never tried salmon skin.

Salmon Skin: Some Guidelines to Success

The first rule of salmon skin: IT MUST BE CRISPY. And, it must be warm. There is nothing more vile than cold, slightly slimy, overly chewy salmon skin that lacks a crispy crunch. Blech.

What Doesn’t Work

I’ve found that the foil-pouch oven method doesn’t do salmon skin justice. If you’re a seasoned salmon skin eater, then you might like foil-pouch-cooked salmon skin, but it isn’t very crispy. Salmon in the oven on a baking sheet or glass baking sheet usually is nice and crispy, though. But the best cooking method to obtain crispy salmon skin perfection? The BBQ, gas grill, or the cast-iron skillet will never let you down.

What Works

The BBQ and gas grill work wonders for salmon skin. Whatever size or cut of salmon you’re cooking, the BBQ and gas grill will not let you down.

If you’re cooking a very large (2 lb) filet (like what they sell at Costco), the salmon skin from the tail section will be the crispiest. But, the tradeoff is that the salmon flesh on the tail will be the most cooked compared to the thicker sections (and, as mentioned in the How to Cook Salmon: the Best Way article, salmon should still be a little red in the middle). A solution? My Family would all attack the thicker sections of the monster filet, and then divvy up the salmon skin from the tail section. Oh heck, we could end up easily eating the whole filet just the three of us. In fact, my dad and I once went through an entire two pounder just the two of us (this is a safe place of no judgment, RIGHT?).

If you’re cooking the smaller, cut-up filets, the salmon skin will cook more evenly.

Cast-iron gives you the most control when cooking your salmon & skin because the salmon can be observed and turned more easily. This cooking method works best for smaller, cut-up filets or tails. (Note: on salmon steaks, the skin surrounds the sides of the salmon, not the bottom. This surrounding skin is difficult to crisp up because only the top and bottom of the salmon steak have direct contact with the heated cooking surface. For steaks, I sadly recommend discarding the salmon skin.)

Oh No—My Salmon is Done Cooking, But I Want my Salmon Skin CRISPIER!

Don’t sweat it. It’s a super easy fix. Take the salmon skin off and keep that skin cooking for as long as you like.

Just please please please never cook your salmon skin for additional time while it’s still attached to the salmon meat, as this will cause your poor salmon to be overcooked and dry. *sad face*

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What Now?

Now that we have some perfectly cooked salmon skin, what do we do with it? If you’re like me, most of it will be gone at this point. But, if you have the willpower I lack, you can make some pretty snazzy dishes with salmon skin.

The Salmon Skin Hand Roll

You heard me. This is happening.

This might look complicated, but it’s easy—I promise.

STEP 1: the Seaweed

STEP 2: the Rice

STEP 3: the Salmon Skin

STEP 4: the Stuff

STEP 5: the Roll

BAM.

And that’s how it’s done.

Directions

Here’s how to make this delicious recipe

The Crispiest Salmon Skin

Pull the salmon skin off the salmon meat. This is easiest after cooking the salmon.

Place the salmon skin back on the already heated surface (presumably you just cooked salmon) of your cooking method: cast-iron or BBQ or gas grill. Place the side that was touching the salmon meat face down—this is the less crispy, whitish side (as opposed to the already crispy brownish side). Continue to cook your salmon skin until it reaches the crispiness you desire. Usually there is no need to turn the salmon skin, as the brownish side will already be crispy when you put your salmon skin back on the heat.

Remove from heat. Enjoy as a finger-snack, or turn it into a fancier meal!

Salmon Skin Hand Roll, Say What?!

Cook sushi rice as instructed on package. Mix rice vinegar, sugar, and kosher salt together in a small bowl, and microwave for 30-45 seconds. After you’ve removed your rice from the heat, pour the rice vinegar mixture on top. Coat the rice evenly with the mixture, being careful not to smash the rice.

Prepare your filling items: slice cucumber, avocado, and salmon skins into long skinny slices.

Fold the nori over in half, “hamburger” style, and press down on the crease. This should cut the larger nori sheet in half. Take a nori sheet half and lay it on a flat, dry surface. Spoon half of the rice on the left third of the nori and sprinkle with furikake for added flavor!

Salmon_skin_4

Spoon half of the rice on the left third of the nori

Place half of your yummy filling items—pickled carrots, radish sprouts, cucumber slices, avocado, and salmon skin—vertically across the rice.

Salmon_skin_5

Place your fillings vertically across the rice

Starting with the bottom left corner, roll to the right until it forms a cone shape.

Salmon_skin_6

Starting with the bottom left corner, roll to the right until it forms a cone shape

To keep the roll closed, put a dab of rice on the remaining corner, squish gently and hold for a few seconds. The cone should be glued shut! Repeat for your second hand roll.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup uncooked sushi or short grain white rice
  • water
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Nori Sheet
  • Sprinkle of Seto Fumi Furikake rice seasoning
  • A handful of pickled carrot slices
  • A handful of radish sprouts
  • 4-5 inch cucumber slices
  • 4 slices of avocado
  • Salmon skins from 2 1/2 lb fillets

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Who’s Cooking Today

Rachel Silver

Rachel Zoë Silver, a recent Cal Berkeley graduate, has been a foodie since her first sushi at three years old. With heritage from the Pacific Northwest, she learned early how to select the best fish from the Pike Place market. Her parents, also cooks and foodies, schlepped her to the best restaurants up and down the West Coast and through Italy. Rachel was still missing her front teeth when she mastered her grandmother’s Apple Pie recipe. She is still as excited by food as she was when, at 18 months, discovered on the pantry floor, hands and face smeared brown, she declared, “Chocolate is Yum!”

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