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Can You Eat Salmon Scales?

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Salmon is one of the most popular varieties of fish that you will find on the market. It’s primarily affordable, it’s easy to prepare, and it’s well-known for its health benefits.

There are many different ways to cook and prepare salmon. It’s a good idea to be familiar with the options, as well as the dos and don’ts of making salmon. 

Much like any other fish, salmon has scales. You can often find them in local grocery stores already filleted and cut and ready to just be prepared.

However, you can also find them whole. If you like to catch and eat, you also need to know the best way to clean and prepare that salmon. 

Can you eat salmon scales? While scales are not poisonous or anything like that, they will not be enjoyable to eat. They are sharp and uncomfortable, certainly not designed to be consumed. You can, however, eat the skin of the salmon if you would like to. 

In this guide, we will walk you through whether or not you can eat salmon scales. We will talk about all of the little details that you should be aware of and how to best enjoy your salmon.

There are different ways to prepare it and things to know if you decide to leave the skin on as well. 

Keep reading to learn if you can eat salmon scales and more! 

Can You Eat Salmon Skin With Scales? 

Technically speaking, it is allowable to eat salmon scales. However, it is typically not recommended. You can eat the skin with no problem.

The thing is that most people remove both scales and skin because they assume they both need to be removed. 

The truth is, you can leave both if you really want to. On that note, it is more often recommended that you remove the scales and keep the skin.

If you do leave the scales, you need to be familiar with the best practices for doing so. 

First, we want to talk about the scales just a bit more. The real problem with trying to eat the scales of salmon is they simply are rough to eat.

We mean that quite literally. The scales have a rough texture that makes them incredibly unappetizing. 

That rough texture bothers some people. The scales are known to feel dry and hard and have been known to feel like they stick going down your throat as well.

Some would tell you that if you know how to cook them properly this is less likely to happen. 

Some would also tell you that if you get used to it then it won’t bother you anymore. This could mean that whether or not you eat the scales is going to be purely based on your preferences.

It might also depend on whether or not you are willing to learn the best ways to prepare your salmon with skin and scales for the best results. 

If you decide to try salmon skin with scales, keep in mind that the recipe might make all of the difference. 

How Can You Tell If Salmon Skin Has Scales? 

Not all salmon skin has scales. Sometimes you might buy salmon that has skin but the scales have already been removed. This is pretty common because the scales are not popular.

Most people prefer not to eat the scales. In fact, most prefer not to eat the skin on salmon as well, but there is no harm in doing so. 

The scales on salmon are shiny and they will be hard. These are easily visible on the surface and are on top of the skin. Take a look at the skin. Maybe even feel it.

If the skin looks like it has a diamond pattern over it, then most likely the scales have already been removed. If it feels smooth to the touch rather than hard or bony, the scales are likely removed

Benefits Of Eating Salmon Skin And Scales

Salmon has a lot of known nutritional benefits. In most cases, you can enjoy those benefits simply by eating the salmon. However, you can get more minerals from the skin if you decide to eat it. 

You don’t have to eat the scales to get additional benefits. Eating just the meat or eating the meat and the skin will provide you with substantial benefits on its own.

The one thing that we should point out is that salmon scales have a high level of collagen in them

That is one of the reasons that many people do eat them. While the skin also contains collagen, there are much higher concentrations in the scales. This is something to be aware of. 

The skin of salmon is rich in nutrients as well. Just so you are aware, salmon meat is rich in many of the same nutrients. However, when you eat the skin and the meat, you get that much more of the minerals from salmon. 

Here are some of the most common nutrients:

  • Omega 3s
  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin D

These are the most prominent minerals but not necessarily the only ones. 

Preparing Salmon With Skin And Scales

Here’s the thing. If you decide to eat salmon with the skin and scales or even just with the skin, you need to know how to prepare it properly. 

One of the biggest reasons people don’t enjoy the skin is because they prepare the salmon in such a way that the skin feels rubbery or even soggy.

If you want to use the skin and make it taste good, it’s best to prepare it in such a way that it gets slightly crispy

Preparing salmon with a method like this will also make it more compatible with the scales if you choose to leave them intact. 

In fact, cooking salmon in certain ways with the skin and/or scales can actually help to moisten the meat and make it more flavorful.

The key factor here is preparing your salmon in a way that the skin is nice and crispy. It’s crisp and flavorful as it should be. 

However, if you are going to steam or broil your fish, you would be better off removing the skin and the scales.

These cooking methods will make your meat moist and tender but they will make the skin rubbery and sometimes almost soggy so it is unappealing. 

We recommend roasting, frying, grilling, or even baking salmon if you are preparing it with skin or scales still attached.

These methods can help crisp up the skin and still provide the meat inside with tender, delicious flavor so you get the best of both. 

Now, you just need to determine whether you are ok with the crunchy, rough texture of the scales before you move forward. Remember that you can enjoy the skin without the scales.

You can remove both skin and scales. Finally, you can also eat the salmon with skin and scales. Just be sure you cook it properly based on this. 

Related Questions

We hope that this guide to salmon with skin and scales is helpful. There are a lot of different factors to consider.

Ultimately, it will depend on your preferences and how you are cooking the salmon and you should base your decisions on these details. 

We invite you to review the following question and answer section for additional details that might be useful as well!

Does salmon skin without scales have collagen? 

Yes, the skin and the scales both contain collagen. While the scales are the highest source of collagen, you do get some from the skin as well. 

Can you remove the skin and scales after cooking salmon? 

Yes, you can. You can remove either the scales or the skin prior to cooking but you can do the same after cooking.

In fact, some people prefer to remove them after cooking as it can be easier or it can help the meat to be more tender and flavorful. 

To do so, you just need to use a knife to cut away the skin from the meat. Once you get it started, you can often just peel it away. 

Here’s a handy video on how to descale a fish if you’re preparing a whole salmon!

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