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Why do you remove the skin from salmon?

I usually like to remove the skin from fish, such as salmon, after it is cooked because it is a source of potential contaminants. I've seen one study on salmon harvested from the Great Lakes, for example, which showed 50% fewer pesticide residues (including residues from DDT) in skinned versus unskinned salmon.

In fish obtained from uncontaminated waters, I would consider the skin to be a nutrient-rich portion of the fish (containing, for example, important concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids). Although many people do not find its taste and texture appealing, the skin of salmon and other fish is definitely considered edible, and it is a valued food in some cuisines and in some restaurants as well. It's the risk of potential toxins that I am trying to avoid when I remove the skin.

I often cook the fish with the skin on when I do the Quick Broil method of preparing salmon and then remove it when it is done. I place the salmon on a hot stainless steel skillet in the broiler with the skin side down and cook for about seven to ten minutes (depending on thickness). After it is done cooking, the skin can be easily removed with a fork.

For more information on this topic, please see:


Zabik ME, Zabik MJ, Booren Am, et al. Pesticides and total polychlorinated biphenyls in chinook salmon and carp harvested from the Great Lakes: Effects of skin-on and skin-off processing and selected cooking methods. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 1995;43(4):993-1001.

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