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Kitchen Smarts: How to Break Down a Side of Salmon

For the best quality fillets, portion them yourself.
By Published Oct. 17, 2018

There are several reasons to buy a whole side of salmon. First, you can use it to prepare our silky, impressive Roasted Whole Side of Salmon recipe that will both feed and impress a crowd. But buying a whole side of salmon is also a good idea if you plan on breaking it down. It’s more economical than buying individual fillets, and it means all of your fillets come from the same piece of salmon, so they’ll be similarly sized and cook more evenly.

In this video, part of the “Kitchen Smarts” series on America’s Test Kitchen’s YouTube channel, Cook’s Country test cook Morgan Bolling demonstrates the steps you should take to break down a side of salmon, from the time you bring it home to when it’s ready to hit the pan. Here are some of our findings:

  • Check for pin bones: The best way to do this is by draping the salmon over an inverted bowl, then using your fingers to find the bones and tweezers or pliers to remove them.
  • Trim the belly and tail (but save them for later): To create evenly sized fillets, use a sharp knife to remove the belly and save it for salmon cakes or gravlax.

Watch the Video

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What’s your favorite way to eat salmon? Let us know in the comments!