How to Prepare Salmon: Cleaning, Filleting, and More

How to Prepare Salmon
7 min reading time

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on how to prepare salmon! Salmon is a delicious and healthy fish that’s packed with omega-3 fatty acids and other essential nutrients. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a beginner in the kitchen, preparing salmon can be a daunting task. But don’t worry! This guide will take you step-by-step on how to clean, fillet, season, and cook salmon to perfection.

Core Findings:

  • Learning how to clean and fillet salmon is essential for creating a fresh and tasty dish.
  • Cooking methods such as grilling, baking, and smoking can all be used to prepare salmon to perfection.
  • Marinating and seasoning salmon can enhance its flavor and make it even more delicious.
  • Properly prepping salmon involves various steps, from thawing frozen salmon to removing pin bones.
  • With the knowledge gained from this guide, you can unleash your inner chef and create delicious salmon dishes.

How to Clean Salmon?

Before you start preparing your salmon, it’s crucial to clean it properly. Follow these easy steps for a fresh and delicious result:

  1. Remove the scales with a scaler or the back of a knife by gently running it against the grain of the scales.
  2. Remove the head and tail of the fish using a sharp knife.
  3. Open the belly of the fish and remove the guts and any other impurities.
  4. Rinse the fish thoroughly with cool water.
  5. Using a pair of pliers, remove any remaining bones from the fish.
  6. Pat the fish dry with paper towels before filleting or cooking.

By following these steps to clean your salmon, you’ll ensure a delicious and healthy meal every time.

How to Prepare Salmon: Filleting Salmon

Filleting salmon is a crucial step for any salmon dish preparation. With this technique, you can create beautiful boneless fillets that are perfect for cooking and presentation. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to fillet salmon:

  • Cut off the head of the fish: Start by placing the salmon on a cutting board and use a sharp knife to cut off the head.
  • Remove the scales: Use a scaler or a spoon to remove the scales from the skin. Make sure to do this with gentle, steady strokes in the opposite direction of the scales.
  • Cut along the spine: Cut along one side of the spine from the head to the tail, making sure to not cut through the bone.
  • Separate the flesh: At the tail end, use the knife to separate the flesh from the spine, cutting through the rib bones as you go. Repeat on the other side of the fish.
  • Remove pin bones: Use pliers or tweezers to remove any pin bones from the fillets. Pin bones are small, needle-like bones that can be found near the center of the fillet.

Once you have filleted the salmon, you can portion it into desired sizes, skin it, or leave the skin on. The fillets are now ready to be cooked according to your recipe.

Tip: If you’re new to filleting salmon, it’s recommended to watch video tutorials or take a cooking class to ensure proper technique and safety.

Cooking Salmon

Now that you have cleaned and filleted your salmon, let’s move on to the fun part: cooking! There are numerous ways to cook salmon, but in this section, we will explore some of the most popular methods.


Grilling salmon is a popular option, especially during the summer months. Here’s a simple recipe to get you started:


  • 4 salmon fillets, skin on
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 lemon, sliced


  1. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Brush the salmon fillets with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place the lemon slices on the grill, then place the salmon fillets on top, skin side down.
  4. Grill for 5-6 minutes per side, or until the salmon is cooked through.
  5. Serve with additional lemon slices and your favorite side dishes.


Baking salmon is a simple and foolproof method that results in a moist and flavorful fish. Here’s a recipe for delicious baked salmon:


  • 4 salmon fillets, skin on
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 lemon, sliced


  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F.
  2. Brush the salmon fillets with melted butter and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place the lemon slices on the bottom of a baking dish, then place the salmon fillets on top, skin side down.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the salmon is cooked through.
  5. Serve with additional lemon slices and your favorite side dishes.


Smoked salmon is a delicious and sophisticated option for special occasions. Here’s a recipe for smoked salmon that is sure to impress:


  • 4 salmon fillets, skin on
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 cups applewood chips, soaked in water for 30 minutes


  1. Combine the brown sugar, kosher salt, black pepper, and paprika in a bowl.
  2. Rub the mixture all over the salmon fillets, making sure to coat them evenly.
  3. Set up your smoker according to the manufacturer’s instructions, using the soaked applewood chips.
  4. Smoke the salmon fillets for 1-2 hours, or until they reach an internal temperature of 145°F.
  5. Serve with crackers, cream cheese, and capers for a classic smoked salmon appetizer.

These are just a few of the many ways to cook salmon. Experiment with different seasonings, sauces, and cooking methods to find your perfect preparation. Happy cooking!

Seasoning Salmon

How to Prepare Salmon

Seasoning salmon is an essential step in adding flavor to your dish. Here are some tips to help you season your salmon to perfection:

  • Use herbs: Fresh herbs such as dill, thyme, and parsley add a burst of freshness to your salmon. Simply sprinkle them on top of your fillet before cooking for a delicious addition.
  • Add spice: Spices such as paprika, cumin, and chili powder can add a kick of flavor to your salmon dish. Mix your desired spices together and rub them onto your salmon fillet before cooking.
  • Lemon: Squeezing fresh lemon juice on top of your salmon fillet not only adds flavor but also helps to break down the proteins, making it more tender.
  • Salt and pepper: Simple salt and pepper can go a long way in bringing out the natural flavors of your salmon. Season both sides of your fillet generously with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper before cooking.

“The trick to seasoning your salmon is to keep it simple and let the natural flavors of the fish shine through.”

If you’re unsure about what seasoning to use, you can also try pre-made spice blends or marinades specifically designed for salmon. Just remember to not over-season your salmon, as it can easily overpower the delicate flavor of the fish.


Prepping salmon requires patience and attention to detail. Thoroughly cleaning the fish, properly filleting it, and seasoning it will result in a delicious and healthy meal that you can enjoy with family and friends.

Thank you for reading this guide on preparing salmon. We hope it has provided you with the necessary knowledge to confidently prepare and cook salmon.

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