When you start to buy fresh fish that comes straight from fishmongers, you might start to notice that the fish is somewhat different from the end product you are used to. Fresh fish not only looks different but it will also taste different from the pre-filleted fish you can buy from a supermarket. One of the main things you will notice is the inclusion of scales, fins, and skin. Most fish will have one or more of these on them when they are fresh. So if you are planning to be eating fish anytime soon, you might want to learn more. Does salmon have scales and fins, and can you eat them? Let’s find out.
Table of Contents
- Scales And Fins On Salmon
- Other Fish With Scales
- Does Salmon Have Scales And Fins – FAQs
Scales And Fins On Salmon
Salmon is one of the most globally consumed fish and is eaten by almost every household in the western market. This popularity is due to the fish being delicious, easy to cook, versatile, and inexpensive. The cost of some fish can be quite high yet salmon has remained really affordable for the most part.
When you make the swap from buying store-bought salmon fillets that have undergone a lot of preparation to buying fresh salmon that has barely been touched, you will notice a whole world of differences. Salmon’s silvery scales will be one of the main differences you will notice.
Fish scales are something that we have all been taught about as it is essentially flexible armor plating to keep the fish safe. Most fish have scales covering a lot of their body, if not all of them, in order to protect them from predators and other hazards.
When you find salmon scales on your fish, you may be wanting to know if they are safe for eating and how to get rid of them. Thankfully, fish scales are very easy to remove, and even if there are too many scales, you can still remove them with ease at home. Salmon begin to grow scales very early on in their lifetime and it is not unheard of to find stray scales that are out of place, similar to humans getting ingrown hairs or skin tags. As the fish grows, more scales will grow and appear which will help further with protecting and camouflaging the fish.
You may have heard about ctenoid and ganoid scales, these are two different types of scales that appear on many different fish. Ctenoid scales are derived from ganoid scales, as they have lost the ganoin, therefore thinning the scales.
Alongside the thick scales that you can find on salmon, you may be wondering if they have fins like a lot of other fish do. Salmon have 8 fins in total if you include their tail. The fins are mostly in pairs as you have pectoral and pelvic fins. The pectoral fins are located under the shoulder and the pelvic/ventral fins are located other belly. Unlike fish such as tilapia, salmon does not have a dorsal fin.
The dorsal fin is the fin that sits on the top of the fish in the middle of its body. This is most commonly seen on sharks and killer whales as it is the smaller fin that breaks the surface of the water. When looking at a shark, both fins will typically break the water. Out of both fins, the dorsal fin is the one at the back.
Are Fish Scales Safe To Eat?
You may be wondering if the scales on a salmon fish are safe to eat. While they are completely safe to eat, you should know that they are very annoying to eat.
The scales on a salmon, and fish scales in general, are very small and very hard. If you are to leave the scales on your fish, you will have a handful of them in every mouthful you take. They will get in your teeth and gums, and be very difficult to get rid of. Similar to eating popcorn and getting a bit of the kernel stuck in your teeth.
While they are annoying and potentially painful to eat, scales are surprisingly nutritious to eat. The nutritional value in the scales might not be worth eating, yet it is still nice to know about.
The main nutritional value in fish scales is made up of collagen and omega-3 fatty acids. These are both absolutely vital to your body and are one of the reasons that salmon is as popular as it is. While the scales are difficult to eat, there is a way that you can make use of their extra nutrition.
To do this, you will want to put the scales in a pot and bring it to a boil. The scales will eventually dissolve. At this point, you will want to add pandan leaves and dried longan to the water. Filter out all of the fish scales and let this mixture turn into jelly overnight in the fridge.
This is a great way for consuming the additional nutrition found within the scales without having to endure the sharp and painful repercussions.
Is Fish Skin Safe To Eat?
Now that you know it is safe to eat salmon scales, you might be wondering about the safety of consuming other parts of the salmon.
Salmon skin might look or sound unappetizing, yet it is actually the healthiest part of the fish. It has the highest concentration of the omega-3 fatty acids that salmon is loved so much for.
The skin is a bit tough and leathery when raw, yet if cooked properly it can be really easy to eat and also enjoyable. When salmon is fried or grilled, you can crisp up the skin very easily which makes it really fun to eat.
Some people purposely buy salmon fillets that still have a decent amount of the skin attached for this sole purpose. Fins and scales may not be sought after, but salmon skin certainly is.
Removing Salmon Scales
Removing the scales of a salmon is a lot easier than you would ever have thought and can be done at home. Whenever you try to scale fish at home, it can cause quite a mess. This mess can be minimized by using a specific countertop or workstation for this purpose as if you are to move the fish around your kitchen a lot then the scales will get scattered around.
- To scale a salmon, all you will need is a sharp knife such as a fillet knife. The sharp knife is not used for the blade sharpness, but the length of the blade. Place your fish or fillet down on a counter with the scales facing upward.
- To remove the scales you will want to scrape the blunt edge of the knife along the fish in the opposite direction the scales face. This should be enough to pry them upwards and pull them off of the fish.
- You want to make sure that after this you clean your salmon. Whenever you are cooking with fish, you want to only work with clean fish. Otherwise, you can risk getting all of your other ingredients dirty. Because fish have been swimming around in water for so long, there can be a lot of bacteria on them which is why it is so important for you to clean fish whenever you use them. Scaleless fish are also part of this as they must be cleaned beforehand too.
- To prepare salmon, you are going to want to have it cut into pieces that you can use in the kitchen. If you are buying salmon from a fishmonger, it should be prepared properly as by your instructions and will already be filleted. Doing this yourself can be risky as it is easy to leave bones in the salmon by accident.
- Once you have salmon fillets, the only preparation left is deciding how you are going to want to cook it. If you are going to fry the salmon, it will be best to leave the skin on to help retain moisture and also for the extra crispy texture. If you are choosing a method of cooking that does not require the skin, removing the skin will be in the preparation requirements for you.
- As long as you have cleaned the salmon and removed both the outer scales and the finer scales, and also have decided if you are going to remove the skin or not – you are ready to start cooking.
Cooking salmon fillets is surprisingly easy and can be done relatively quickly.
To cook your salmon, pick a method of cooking. There are many methods and all of them have their benefits and caveats.
Frying salmon in oil is arguably the best. It allows you to ensure the skin is very crispy while also being in complete control of how it is cooked. When salmon is cooked in an oven, it can be easy to lose track of time and accidentally cook it for too long. When you are pan-frying the salmon you are in complete control. You can constantly check the salmon to make sure it is not too cooked yet.
My favorite way of frying salmon is to add some olive oil to a pan so that there is a generous amount and allow it to heat up considerably. Place the salmon skin side down when the pan is very hot, there should be an audible sizzle. Once the skin has turned crispy, you can start cooking the rest of the salmon.
The best way to get an evenly cooked salmon fillet is to grab a spoon and scoop up some of the really hot oil. Pour it over the top of the salmon. This will be really effective for cooking the pink flesh of the salmon.
After your salmon is cooked to your liking, serve it on a plate with some salad such as rocket salad. Squeeze lemon juice over the fillet. Lemon and salmon are an incredibly match and go really well together.
There are many different species of salmon, although you might not know about all of them. When buying salmon meat from a supermarket, you have probably seen pink salmon as one of the most common types of salmon.
There are other types of salmon and all of them taste a little bit different. The different salmon species are:
- Atlantic ocean salmon
Out of all of these, chinook salmon, also know as king salmon, is the largest and can grow up to 58 inches long while weighing 126 lbs.
Other Fish With Scales
Salmon is not the only fish that you commonly eat that also have scales. The other fish that have scales are tuna, perch, codfish, tilapia, flounder, and sardines.
While there are a lot of fish that have scales, there are still a lot that are without scales. The fish that do not have scales are less likely to be prey than their scaled counterparts. Which explains why they did not evolve to have armor protecting them.
As we know, everything undergoes evolution throughout time and will adapt to its environment. Any fish that is not in danger, does not need as much protection.
The scaleless fish are:
- Moray eels
- Combtooth blennies
- Sailfin blennies
Does Salmon Have Scales And Fins – FAQs
Is it OK to eat the skin on salmon?
Salmon skin is completely safe to eat and is actually in demand by a lot of people. When cooked properly, salmon skin can become very crispy and delicious which makes it a great addition to salmon fillets. On top of this, salmon skin has a lot of nutritional value as it contains the highest concentration of omega-3 fatty acids on a salmon.
Is it OK to eat fish scales?
Fish scales are okay to eat and will not harm you if you digest them. They contain a lot of collagen and omega-3 fatty acids, which is incredibly nutritious. However, they are quite sharp and hard which can make them get stuck in your teeth very easily. They are similar to popcorn kernels yet they are very small and there are so many of them on a salmon. If you do not remove them, there is a high chance that you will have loads of them stuck in your teeth. A lot of people opt to dissolve the salmon scales in boiling water and add flavorings and ingredients to it that will result in a tasty jelly. This allows you to consume the nutrition without eating scales.
Is it okay to eat fish fins?
Fins are mostly used as the main ingredient in making a fish stock. However, they can also be eaten on their own without much preparation. Larger fins can be smoked in order to draw out any moisture or juices and can then be eaten. The smaller fins can be fried or grilled in order to make a crispy snack. This is very similar to how the skin of a salmon can be cooked in the same way.