What you’ll need
Parchment paper or foil
Saucepan for frying
Dry spices and seasonings
Cooking salmon (and sablefish) fillets with the skin on, whether you intend to eat the skin or not—we hope you do!—keeps the fish moist. Salmon skin is especially delicious when cooked until golden and crispy, but certain preparations, such as chowders, poke bowls, sushi, ceviche, or batter-dipped fried fish require you to remove it. But don’t throw the skin away! You can cook it separately to make crispy snacks to have with drinks or as garnishes for other dishes like risotto, ceviche, or poke. Or sandwich it between slices of toasted grainy bread with juicy tomatoes, arugula, and garlicky mayo for a killer pescatarian BLT.
For the broiler: Set the salmon skin on a foil- or parchment paper–lined baking sheet. Brush the skin with oil and sprinkle lightly with spices. Broil from the center of the oven, turning once, until crispy. Try a mixture of brown sugar, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt for salmon skin “BBQ potato chips.”
For fried salmon skin “chicharrónes” or “cracklins”: Pat the skin very dry and cut crosswise (from belly to back) into ½-inch-wide strips. In a skillet, heat 1 inch of oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the strips, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring frequently, until curled and golden, 5 to 8 minutes. Drain on paper towels, then transfer to a bowl and toss with salt and seasonings. Try furikake, togarashi, or Old Bay seasoning.
For pan-fried salmon skin: Heat 1 tablespoon oil or butter in a cast-iron or nonstick skillet until shimmering. Pat the salmon skin very dry and season with salt on both sides. Add it to the pan and press gently with a spatula to flatten for about 10 seconds. Remove the spatula and cook over medium heat, spooning some of the hot oil over the top, until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the skin and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer the skin to a paper towel–lined plate and let cool. The skin will become crisp as it cools. Return to the pan if the skin isn’t completely crisp after cooling. Season with spices if desired.
For oven-baked salmon skin: Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with a lightly oiled wire rack to allow air to circulate (an airfryer is a great alternative option). Arrange the salmon skin on the rack in a single layer and brush with oil. Sprinkle with salt and seasonings and bake from the center of the oven until golden brown and crisp, about 10 minutes. Try smoked paprika, brown sugar, and cracked black pepper for salmon skin “bacon.”