One of the neglected parts of fish in the modern diet is the skin. We eat chicken and pork skin quite a bit, but apparently fish skin doesnt get much live. It’s easy to see why.
When you aren’t accustomed to eating something “exotic” like salmon skin, then you will probably overlook it as a savory treat and instead toss it in the trash. That’s a big mistake though because with right preparation salmon skin is both delicious and nutritious.
We will start with the nutritious. First comes a caveat. If you are eating any type of fish in general, you are accepting that industry has polluted the water supplies. Unfortunately this means fish probably have some levels of pollutant and potentially dangerous compounds. Fatty tissue tend accumulate nasty things like heavy metals so it is possible that by eating fish that you are exposing yourself to a higher risk of ingesting these pollutants. It probably isn’t much more dangerous than pesticides, additives, or prescription drugs over long periods of time, but I don’t have the research in hand to back up that claim.
Now with that out of the way, let’s get to the skin. Salmon skin is fatty which is music to primal practitioners ears. It’s good fat too. The skin holds omega-3 fatty acids which are typically low in modern American diets. These omega 3s are anti inflammatory agents that are necessary for brain function and reduce risk for various chronic conditions.
Per the University of New Mexico:
Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be important for cognitive (brain memory and performance) and behavioral function. In fact, infants who do not get enough omega-3 fatty acids from their mothers during pregnancy are at risk for developing vision and nerve problems.
Now the preparation. Salmon skin can be baked, grilled or fried with excellent results. My preferred method is to fry it in a pan to help retain the natural oils and flavoring. Grilling will tend to cause a lot of fat loss which results in less nutritional and flavor benefits.
As a sushi chef, I had access to some traditional Japanese ingredients that worked well to complement and even tame the strong flavor of the salmon skin. My wife is a huge fan of salmon skin sushi hand rolls and so am I.
- Salmon Skin
- Sushi Vinegar
- Sliced Shiitake Mushrooms
- Soy Sauce
- Bonito flakes
- Cook sushi rice
- Season the flesh side of the Salmon Skin with pepper, kosher salt, onion powder, and garlic powder
- Bring a pot with soy sauce, honey, and mirin to a boil. Add sliced shiitake mushrooms. Cook for 10-15 mins and drain. The mushrooms should have a nice blend of sweet and saltiness.
- Fry the salmon skin starting flesh side down in whatever primal oil you choose (coconut, olive, etc.), after the flesh side begins to crisp, flip to crisp the skin.
After cooling slightly slice the salmon skin into strips:
- Blanch 1-2 spears of asparagus for each hand roll you plan to make. A typical 4 finger wide salmon filet will make about 3 hand rolls.
- When the sushi rice is complete, put it in a wide and shallow mixing bowl. Slowly pour sushi vinegar over the rice and begin mixing the rice with a rice paddle or large wooden mixing spoon. If you have a fan, try to fan the rice while mixing. This prevents the starches from gathering and making the rice too sticky.
- Take out a sheet of nori and cut it down to half size. Place a golf ball size clump of rice on the middle of the left hand side of the nori and spread the rice out leaving approximately 2cm on the edges of the left half the nori. On the bottom right corner, place a few grains of sushi rice and smash them. This will act like a glue to keep the roll from falling apart.
- Place asparagus, shiitake mushrooms, and fried salmon skin in the middle facing the top left corner of the nori.
- Now you are ready to roll the hand roll. With your right hand, take the bottom left corner of the sushi and roll across the “ingredients” to tuck them into a cone shape. Continue rolling the nori to the grains of sushi that you smashed on the top right corner.
- Voila! You have a mostly completed roll. Now top with sesame seeds and eel sauce for a healthy appetizer. If you have any luck, it will look like this:
With some modifications like gluten free soy sauce, this dish can be perfectly primal. The salmon skin strips can also be eaten alone as a protein and fat rich snack or on top of rice. I’d also like to try larger chip size pieces to dip in a mango salsa. Do you have any good uses for salmon skin? Let us know in the comments!