Can You Eat Salmon Skin to Reduce Food Waste? A Registered Dietitian Weighs In
Salmon skin contains much of the fish's nutrients. Here's why (and how) an expert says you should eat it to reduce food waste.
Salmon is a mainstay in many kitchens. Whether prepared in a low-lit sushi bar or in the comfort of your own home, the fairly ubiquitous fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and more.
But can you eat salmon skin? Though the scaly layer is often discarded due to texture and taste preferences, it's entirely edible—and it's one of the best ways to ensure you're getting the maximum amount of nutrients from your seaborn meal.
Can You Eat Salmon Skin?
Yes, you can eat salmon skin. Sure, it's metallic and a bit fishier than the fish meat itself, but when properly prepared, on-skin salmon (or even the skin alone) is an enjoyable and healthy addition to your diet.
"You can and definitely should eat salmon skin," says registered dietitian Amy Gorin, MS, RDN of Plant Based with Amy. "This is where a large amount of the nutrients of the fish exist. You get significantly more protein and zinc, for instance, when you eat the skin."
Like much seafood, salmon supports heart and bone health while decreasing the risk of some cancers. Salmon contains vitamins A and B, along with omega-3 fatty acids—derived from sea plants and stored as oil in the fish's muscles—and, of course, protein.
Sourcing is key when purchasing salmon. The majority of store-bought salmon in the U.S. is farmed, and susceptible to levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), chemical contaminants that come from the feed. Bacteria and pesticides can be found in wild salmon, too, so knowing where your fish comes from is an important step. Still, salmon (skin and all) is generally considered to be a safe and healthy option.
If preparing salmon skin sounds like a daunting task, worry not—these recipes will help you learn to enjoy the previously discarded portion.
7 Salmon Skin Recipes to Try
1. Crispy Salmon Skin Rice Bowl
Photo: The Woks of Life
This bowl recipe is finished with crispy skin for some welcome, tasty crunch. Avodaco, saucy salmon, and crispy skin are served over a bed of rice, with sheets of nori and a touch of wasabi adding to the assemblage of texture.
2. Crispy Skin-On Salmon
Photo: Mind Over Munch
The most accessible approach to salmon skin consumption—just leave it on the fish. Pan-seared on high heat to achieve the optimal crust, this option can be enjoyed with a series of plant-based sides or over a salad.
3. Salmon Skin Roll
Photo: Simply Homecooked
This popular maki is surprisingly easy to make at home. Cucumber, avocado, crab (or your favorite substitute), and crispy salmon skins roll with rice, nori, and black sesame, delivering all of the appeal of your favorite sushi joint to your own kitchen.
4. Crispy Salmon Skin Bacon
Pan-fried and cut into strips, salmon skin becomes a snack. Eat as-is, toss onto a salad, or reimagine the classic BLT as an SLT, the scrappy take helping to reduce food waste while increasing the meal's health factor.
5. Air Fryer Salmon With Crispy Skin
Photo: Cook the Story
We love an air-fryer hack. Cooking up your skin-on salmon in the convenient contraption is quick and easy, leaving the outer layer perfectly crispy and ideal for any meal.
6. Salmon Skin Chips
Photo: Kvaroy Arctic
Here us out: salmon skin chips. Transforming the scaly skin into a crunchy and poppable snack provides a prime entry point for kids and picky adults who may be weary of its shiny, slimy finish.
7. Crispy Salmon Skin Salad
We're always looking for new ways to dress up our salad, and salmon skin provides for some primo crunch. Serve this salad alongside your salmon fillets for a meta moment.
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