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Science

That Gray Stuff on Salmon? It’s Actually Really Good for You

Don’t be fooled by its ho-hum color. Nutritionally, the gray part of salmon can’t be beat.
By Published June 20, 2022

When you serve salmon, you want the fish to be not only perfectly-cooked, but beautiful. We love to dress up our filets with lacquer-y glazes or handsome sesame crusts, and we’ve even nailed down two (easy) fixes for when those unsightly white streaks appear on the fish. 

But none of these treatments address the other cosmetic problem that salmon can have. Salmon’s bright pink flesh is its calling card, but just below its skin, there is a portion that is gray or sometimes brown. In pursuit of perfectly-pink fish, you might be tempted to remove this flesh along with the skin—but wait. Even if you love to beautify your filets, this is one area you might want to leave untouched. Why? The gray area of salmon is actually one of the most nutritious parts of the fish.

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What Is the Gray Part of Salmon, and Why Is It So Good For You?

This gray portion of the salmon is a layer of fatty muscle tissue that is low in the pink pigments found in the rest of the fish. This area contains more fat than the rest of the salmon—and it therefore is the most rich in omega-3 fatty acids, since salmon fat is high in omega-3s.

Knowing that the gray part of salmon is the most nutrient dense part of the fish makes a convincing argument for keeping this layer on your salmon—but what if it impacts flavor? We ran a quick side-by-side taste test to find out.

Taste Test: Does the Gray Part of Salmon Affect Flavor?

To find out, we oven-roasted several filets of salmon, then removed the gray portion from half of them and left it intact on the others. We then instructed a panel of tasters to taste the samples blind.

The result? Only a few discerning palates noticed that the samples with the gray substance had an ever-so-slightly fishier flavor. Most couldn’t tell the difference.

So, if you really want to remove the gray portion of your salmon, it’s easy enough to do so by peeling off the skin and scraping it away with the back of a knife. But your salmon won’t taste much different if you leave it on—and you’ll be consuming more omega-3 fatty acids to boot.

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.