Easy Ways to Remove Scales from Salmon

If you are a seafood lover, then you must have tasted salmon at some point in your life. It is often referred to as the king of fish because of its delicious taste and several health benefits. However, the thought of removing the scales from salmon can be intimidating, especially if you have never done it before. In this article, we’ll guide you on how to remove the scales from salmon effortlessly.

What Are Fish Scales Made Of?

Fish scales come in different shapes and sizes. Some are shiny, while others are dull. However, they are all made up of the same material, which is called “dermal bone”. This material is similar to our bone and is made up of collagen and calcium phosphate. The outermost layer is made up of a hard protein called “keratin”.

Why Remove Salmon Scales?

Salmon scales are edible, and some people prefer to leave them on when cooking. However, many others prefer to remove them because they can be hard and unpleasant to eat. Removing the scales also helps the seasoning and marinade to penetrate the salmon’s flesh, resulting in a more flavorful dish.

How to Remove Scales from Salmon?

Removing the scales from salmon may seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and technique, it can be done quickly and easily. The steps below detail how to remove scales from salmon effectively:

  • Step 1: Clean the Salmon
  • Before removing the scales, ensure that the salmon is clean. Rinse the fish under running water and pat it dry with a paper towel.

  • Step 2: Secure the Salmon
  • Place the salmon on a cutting board with its stomach facing down. Hold the tail firmly with your non-dominant hand to prevent it from slipping.

  • Step 3: Scrape the Scales
  • Use a fish scaler or a butter knife to scrape the scales from the tail towards the head of the fish. Apply gentle but firm pressure, and ensure to scrape each section of the fish only once to avoid damaging the flesh. Be sure to scrape along the grain of the scales. Repeat the process until all scales have been removed.

  • Step 4: Rinse the Fish
  • Once all the scales have been removed, place the salmon under running water to wash away any loose scales or debris.

  • Step 5: Pat Dry the Fish
  • Use a paper towel to pat dry the salmon. Make sure to remove any excess water before proceeding to cook or freeze the fish.

Tips for Removing Salmon Scales

The following tips can help make the process of removing salmon scales more comfortable:

  • Use a sharp scaler or scraper to make the task easier. Dull tools can make the process cumbersome and may damage the fish’s skin.
  • Remove the scales in one direction. Scraping the same area multiple times can damage the skin and reduce the fish’s presentation.
  • Hold the fish firmly to avoid slipping, which can result in injury.
  • When removing the scales, ensure that the knife or scraper is parallel to the skin. Using it at an angle can cut into the fish and decrease its value.
  • Wash the fish after removing the scales to prevent any loose scales from getting stuck in the fish’s flesh or getting into your cooking utensils.


Removing scales from salmon may seem like a formidable task, but with the right technique and tools, it is easy to achieve. Ensuring that the fish is clean before scaling, using the right tools, and taking precautionary measures can make the process smoother. Removing the scales will not only make the fish look better, but it also helps the seasoning and marinade to penetrate the fish’s flesh. So, go ahead and try removing the scales from your salmon the next time you cook it, and enjoy a delicious and pleasantly textured meal.

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