Instructables

Breaking Down A Whole Salmon

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Photo by Charlie Nordstrom

There is no food that lifts spirits, tickles the kundalini, hits the umami pleasure center, or exemplifies the perfection of the universe like wild Pacific salmon. Wild salmon also supports 137 other species from killer whales to osprey to seals to caddisflies, so they are critical connectors of ecosystems, from salt water, to rivers, and the land.

Salmon are born in freshwater, and after a year or so in the river, migrate downstream to salt water. King salmon is most common on the California Coast. They live 5-7 years in total, before migrating back to their streams where they spawn, die, and their decomposing bodies fertilize plankton to feed their offspring the next spring.

What salmon share with us through their deaths goes beyond feeding their own offspring. Salmon are an integral part of many food webs, as they are, along with steelhead trout, the only fish that bring nutrients from the sea to the land. Bear and eagles take these creatures from the water to the through forests. Gulls and crows scavenge the parts that the eagles and osprey don’t eat. And all the birds scatter the minerals and nutrients the salmon bring from the ocean to the land, helping to fertilize the surrounding trees and plants forests, which in turn help clean run-off to the rivers and provides shade for returning salmon.

These are amazing animals, and a really sustainable seafood choice. But to show them respect, and do ourselves a favor, it’s best to eat the whole fish-not just slice off a few prime fillets and waste the rest. By eating the whole fish, we come to know it intimately. You get more of the potent oils when you eat the eggs. If you treat the skin like fish bacon, you’ll soak up healthy fats stored in it. The head, normally thrown away will make a tasty soup that is literally brain food—it will make you smarter and help keep dementia at bay. The belly is prime fare; since it’s so fatty it’s a motherlode of Omega-3’s and the bones add calcium to your diet. And there are also the more abstract benefits by eating adventurously, as we cultivate our creativity, and taste the world around us in new, unexpected ways.

 
 
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Xanthippos1 month ago

Using the meat as Suchi or sashimi is very nice; steaking it and barbacueing it is lovely - oh! the skin! But if you can the salmon, you eat everything - including the bones, as the soften in the pressure cooker or canner. And my dog loves, loves! LOVES! the skin and juices from the can/jar. We canned 26 sockeye this year, and barbacues two for the visiting relatives. We'll be barbacuing another we caught today; oh, yumm. This atheist believes that God is good. Om Mane padme hum! Canning is easy!

I love the idea of canning Salmon and maybe Tuna. Do you can this item indoors or outdoors? I have a pressure canner but most of the recipes I've seen can it out of doors for some reason.

Maria Finn (author)  Xanthippos1 month ago

I also dry the bones and grind them down and mix them 1:1 with flake salt and then use the salmon salt like a dry fish sauce.

I'm glad you saved the collar but have to say you tossed out some of the best meat. Those little medallions in the cheek and also the spine meat throw it on the bbq for a quick sear and pick the meat off with tooth picks.

Maria Finn (author)  Joe Petrocks1 month ago

Halibut cheeks are one of my favorite things to eat. Salmon cheeks just seemed like to much work for the size, but I'll give it a try. Thanks!

The salmon cheeks are even better tastes like fish butter. Yummy.
and easy to get to pull the gill plate up and there you go. or just eat the whole head. :)
fish head.jpg
nanhi1 month ago
Maria, this is NOT the way to prepare an expensive fish at home for food especially when you say "show them respect, and do ourselves a favor, it’s best to eat the whole fish-not just slice off a few prime fillets and waste the rest". You talk about NO fillets yet you fillet the fish??
Here is how to prepare a Salmon: a) Descale the fish; b) Cut off all fins except the tail at this point; c) Lay the fish flat. With a sharp heavy knife make a half cut close to the head from the body. Flip the fish and make another cut to sever the head; d) Now stand the head on the flat cut end and slice into two halves. Note: you will have the eyes intact in each half; e) lay the fish flat. Cut the tail out; f) from the rear end start slicing the fish through and throuh into half inch slices, till you get solid slices without the belly hollow; g) now stand the fish on the flat head side and slice through to remove the belly piece; Slice the big belly piece into smaller pieces; h) now lay the fish flat and cut half inch slices through and through as in sl. f) with bone in. Note: when eating, the bones separate from the fish without any problems or danger.
Now you have the whole fish cut into lovely portions. Marinate in spices and bake or shallow fry. Enjoy some fried and some in gravy. Gravy: fry spices with garlic ginger paste, add tomatoes and fry. Add water and bring to boil. Now drop the fried fish in the gravy. Enjoy. Delicious! Yum yum!
Maria Finn (author)  nanhi1 month ago

I am going to use the fillets! Some I made into gravlax and others I froze for sushi/sashimi. I'll post these soon. Thanks for the tips!

XardoX nanhi1 month ago

nanhi...

you are SO right on everything you said, but one thing is SO wrong, everything you said in your comment, is the right way to treat every fish in the world, but that is not just a fish, that's a Salmon and everything that maría posted there is the RIGHT way to Break Down a whole Salmon... Sincerely your lovely Chef friend XardoX...

XardoX1 month ago

Maria Finn, i just loved the way you worked that beautiful Salmon, I've been cooking for close to 25 Years now and as a Chef i can tell you that what you did there was a great job, and also checked on your recipes, the Bibimbop and the Salmon Spam are great... keep working hard that i will keep cooking your recipes :D

Greetings from Venezuela!!!

Maria Finn (author)  XardoX1 month ago

Thanks Xardo!

Hey! I would really love to feature this project - can you change your main image to one of the ones of you breaking down the salmon?

Thanks!

Audrey

Community Manager

Maria Finn (author)  audreyobscura1 month ago
Will do! Will you give me until tomorrow before you feature, as I'm going to post the other Instructables for making dishes out of the parts? Thanks, M.
kudos madam. kudos.
michaelgc1 month ago

I was just looking into salmon fishing the other day, mainly so i could eat more fish to get more omega-3's. I am trying to eat a pound a week... Anyway, I will definetely be using this, thanks.

Maria Finn (author)  michaelgc1 month ago

When out fishing, I see so many people throwing away the bellies and the eggs-these are the best sources of omega-3's.

did a search on Omega-3

here is a link to WebMD

http://www.webmd.com/diet/ss/slideshow-omega-3-hea...

Very interesting.

AWESOME!! thanks
johnstat0001 month ago

Yummy! I just had some very good King Salmon with a cherry reduction sauce last night. You have reminded me that I need to go fishing!

marewzaa1 month ago

The information is very interesting. You make me understand. You helped me so much.

Thanks for sharing this.

I can't wait to get the recipe for that salmon chowder! It was amazing!