How To Cut Salmon

You may be wishing to pan-sear salmon with the skin on or are planning on serving up sushi; there are certainly things one needs to know how to do to prepare to make these dishes. And it all starts with the cutting of the salmon. You’ve had the idea or perhaps seen a recipe and are now eager to put the plan into action, but how to cut salmon to begin with?

Salmon can be cut in various ways, such as fillets, steak, and sushi. If you need to remove the skin, you can take it off from each fillet or the entire salmon at once. A fillet is cut horizontally from the side of the fish; steak comes from the whole, and sushi is small slices cut from a fillet.

There are various ways of cutting salmon, and we are going to walk you through each one step by step; therefore, get ready and make notes if needed.

If you buy a whole salmon or a side of one, you have the freedom to choose how you will cut it.

You can determine the different portion sizes and perhaps even do other dishes with the same fish.

How To Cut Salmon Skin Off

You can eat salmon skin, especially if you pan-sear it until it is nice and crispy; however, there are occasions and purposes where we need our salmon to be skinless, such as some of the examples we have mentioned.

Let us delve into the ins and outs of removing the skin from the salmon.

You can either remove the skin from single fillets, or it is also possible to remove it all at once.

  • Start with the salmon placed, with the skin-side down, on an appropriately sized cutting board.
  • Using a sharp knife, preferably a paring or chef’s knife, make a cut in the salmon about 1 inch between the skin and the actual flesh (meat). 
  • Use this hole to grip the fish in your hand to prevent anything from slipping while you cut. 
  • Now it is time to remove the skin from the salmon; hold the skin with the hole you have made and pull tightly while you cut in a sawing motion in the opposite direction to which you are cutting. 
  • Make sure that you keep the knife near the surface and be careful of cutting too deep into the meat.   
  • Once you come to the other end of the salmon, then you can stop cutting and, if need be, pull off any skin that is still slightly attached.

How To Remove Salmon Skin With Hot Water

Here is How to easily remove salmon skin from a salmon fillet without using a knife,

  1. Boil Water
  2. Place salmon fillet skin side up on a large plate or rack over the sink.
  3. Pour boiling water slowly on salmon skin
  4. Pull salmon skin off slowly

How To Cut Salmon For Sushi

When purchasing salmon to make sushi, you need to be cautious of where you shop and what you buy. Look for farmed fish that are “Atlantic salmon” or “Alaskan salmon.”

This is because, unlike farmed salmon, wild salmon have a far higher risk of carrying parasites due to their diet.

Farmed salmon receive feed pellets, and therefore the fish are purer.

There are different recipes and types of sushi that you could be cutting for, and it is advisable to follow the recipe that you are working with to determine which way to finish cutting the fillet.

The ideal knife, and one which you ought to get if you do not have one, is a sashimi knife to help cut long strokes.

Below are different types of sushi cuts.

How To Cut Salmon For Sushi Rolls

For sushi rolls, you want to cut long and somewhat thinner pieces at about half an inch thick (1.3 cm). The thickness may vary depending on your preference, but try not to make them too thin.

First, cut the fillet in half, keep the knife parallel with the cutting board, and cut pieces along the fillet. Keep cutting slices off until you have enough for your salmon rolls.

How To Cut Salmon For Nigiri

To make nigiri, keep the knife at the end of the fillet and position it at a 45-degree angle. You need to be careful when cutting for this type of sushi, as you will be making slices that are 0.1 inches (3.2 mm) thin.

Refrain from “sawing” the meat, but rather make precise and elegant slices until you complete the whole fillet.

How To Cut Salmon For Sashimi

Cutting cubes for sashimi will be done by cutting a fillet into strips of no less than 1 inch (2.5 cm).

Then, you want to dice the strips into slightly thinner pieces than the strips at 0.7 inches (1.9 cm).

Keep going until you have cubed the desired amount for your sashimi.

How To Cut Salmon Into Fillets

You will begin by placing the salmon on a cutting board and holding the tail with one and with your other; insert the knife into the vent at the tail end of the fish.

Then you will run the blade towards the head of the fish. From here, you will do the following: 

  • Making an incision from the top to the belly will be your next move. Ultimately from the top of the fish, make a cut running from the backbone and slice through until you reach your initial cut. Then start from the same position on the top and do the same, but going to the other end – be sure not to cut too deeply into the flesh.
  • If you have bought a whole fish with a head and fins still attached, now is the time to cut these off. Try to make good, clean cuts, and once again, do not “saw” the fish.
  • You will now carve the two fillets. Insert the fillet knife at the fish’s spine and begin at the head side of the fish. Follow the backbone as a guide and run the knife along the rib cage area. You will create a vertical cut to separate the fillet from the tail by doing this.
  • Lift the fillet, and now it is time to remove the ribs and cut the second fillet. Take the fillet knife and separate the ribs from the side of the fillet that is skin-side down. 
  • The last point is to remove the pin bones now, this can be tricky, and you will need to be thorough. If you cannot see them, use the knife and run it down the tail-end of the fillets to feel for them. Use needle-nose pliers or tweezers to complete this.

How To Cut Salmon Into Steaks

When it comes to cutting salmon for steaks, you will once again need a cutting board on which to work.

Start by wiping away any stray scales. You should not find too many if any, but it is good to check.

You can use a paper towel to wipe off any remaining scales; then, it is advisable to rinse the salmon with cold water.

You are now ready to begin cutting:

  • With the salmon lying flat, you will begin by cutting roughly 8 to 10 pieces. You want to try and gauge how big to cut each piece, but ideally, we would advise aiming for between 1 and 2 inches (2.5 and 5 cm). 
  • Start at the wide end of the salmon (where the head would be) and make your way towards the tail end. 
  • This is the only time a “sawing” or back and forth motion to the cutting is recommended as you are making steaks and not elegant sushi. 
  • Next up is the process of de-boning the steaks, and this will be done in a similar fashion as with the fillets. You will need to cut out the membrane from the center of the fish and remove the pin bones as you would for the fillets.  


Salmon is a versatile and delicious fish that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, from steaks to sushi.

With all these options available, it’s challenging to decide what to opt for, but if you are a seafood lover, perhaps you intend to try your hand at prepping the meat for all of these dishes.

We certainly hope you have a better understanding of cutting salmon now and wish you the best of luck.