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What To Do With A Whole Salmon

By far the most economical way to buy salmon is to buy whole salmon – you can either just roast/bake it whole, or you can break it down and use all parts of the fish to create different products and different dishes.  This second option however, seems to scare many purchasers – they don’t know how to fillet a salmon and put it in the “too hard basket”.  While the thought of filleting a salmon may seem intimidating, it isn’t too hard, and your options for meals are endless.

We put out a video a few years ago, and the lovely Josh Summers shows you a step by step way to fillet a whole fish - watch this and see how easy it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcN5krj76Uo.  Now that you’ve seen how to remove the fillets from the frame – what next you ask?  Well, here are some options for you!

Once you have trimmed up the fillets as shown in the video (keep all those trimmings) there are several options.  The easiest is to do nothing!  Just add seasonings and flavourings and bake the fillet in the oven.  A standard fillet like this can also be hot smoked easily.  If you enjoy the silky texture of cured salmon, you can follow our Citrus-Cured Salmon recipe here for a simple but impressive dish.  Alternatively, you can remove the pin bones (just use regular tweezers or small pliers) and cut into portions then bake or pan-fry. 

Citrus cured salmon

Sashimi-lovers – we have you covered too!  All you need to do is to remove the skin and pinbones.  To take off the skin, follow Josh’s instructions in this video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trzR9z0BIMU.  Rather than removing the pinbones with tweezers, you can do a “V-cut” where you simply cut out the line of bones.  Once this has been done, you then have a boneless, skinless fillet that you can cut into small pieces for sashimi.  Josh has another video showing how to do this – keep in mind that this is a simple method for inexperienced sashimi cutters so perfect for the home cook! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umlod2kf3K8

When you are dealing with the fillets, it is important to keep any offcuts as these can be used in other dishes.  As seen in the video, Josh cut off the belly fin – you definitely need to keep this!  Why you ask?  Because the fins and wings (collars) are like chicken (salmon) nibbles!

The wings are the meaty bits attached to the fins just behind the head and are often referred to as collars (as Josh does in the video).  Simply cut the wings off the head and save along with the belly fin.  If you only have one salmon, 3 nibbles isn’t going to be enough for a meal, so either pop them into the freezer until you have a stockpile, or you can coat them in some teriyaki sauce and bake them for 15 minutes until caramelised and crispy (just don’t tell anyone else about them or you will have to share)!

Salmon fillet salmon sashimi flavourings

The frame (skeleton) will still have quite a bit of flesh stuck to it.  To remove it, simply get a dessert spoon and scrape the meat off the bones.  These scrapings are very lean and are perfect for making into fish cakes and burgers, along with any of the boneless, skinless scraps from the filleting.

The remaining frame and head and any other leftover scraps and bones make fabulous stock and soups.  Simply add to a pot with vegetables and seasonings e.g. onion, celery, carrot, garlic, thyme, peppercorns, dill, etc and salt.  Cover with water then bring to the boil.  Simmer for up to 20 minutes – salmon stock with become cloudy if you cook it for too long.  Strain and use in soups, stews or risotto.

So, now you have the tools you need to buy a whole salmon and start creating some amazing dishes – all you need to do is give it a go!  There are loads of tasty recipes on the website if you need a little inspiration.

maple glazed salmon

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