Salmon is one of the most common ingredients in sashimi, nigiri, rolls and other raw sushi dishes. There is always a certain risk in eating raw fish, so preparing salmon properly is very important. Start with fresh, high-quality fish, but cleaning your work surface and tools is also important to prevent the transmission of bacteria. If you choose a whole salmon for sushi, you will need to cut it and remove the bones correctly.
Part 1 of 4: Selecting the Salmon
Step 1. Go to a reliable fish market that handles salmon safely
To ensure the fish is fresh and safe to eat raw, find a market that treats it properly. Check that fillets are displayed on aluminum or stainless steel trays with plenty of crushed ice around. On the other hand, the whole salmon must be completely buried in ice.
- Salmon fillets should be arranged so that they barely touch each other.
- Store employees must cut the filets in front of customers. Make sure cutting boards are cleaned and sanitized regularly.
Step 2. Choose farmed salmon to avoid parasites
To make absolutely sure there are no parasites on your sushi, it's best to avoid wild salmon. Farmers receive parasite-free food, so you can be sure your fish is safe to eat.
There should be a label that says the salmon is farmed, but if you're not sure, ask a market worker if it comes from a farm or if it's wild
Step 3. Buy a whole salmon to better judge freshness
Although fillets are easier to handle, freshness is usually more apparent in whole salmon. You can choose the freshest fish if you buy a whole one.
Step 4. Analyze fish eyes and flesh to determine freshness
In whole salmon, make sure the gills are quite red, the eyes are clear and full, and the flesh is crisp and firm. For fillets, look for a pink or orange flesh and fine white lines.
- Whole salmon should also have a pleasant marine scent and tight muscles.
- If the eyes of the whole fish are cloudy or shriveled, it is probably not fresh. A milky film on the outside is also another sign that it doesn't look good.
- If the fillets are an opaque gray or yellow color, they are probably spoiled.
Step 5. Remove scales and eviscerate fish at home for safety.
These procedures can be a lot of work, especially if you're not used to it. But if you are unsure of the level of cleanliness and confidence in the market, it is better to take care of cleaning at home. You will need a scale remover, fine pliers and a pimple knife.
- If you are going to clean and eviscerate the fish, wash all the blood and viscera inside the animal with running water.
- If you trust the market, have them clean and gut the salmon for you.
Part 2 of 4: Preparing the work surface and tools
Step 1. Sanitize the work surface with bleach
Before starting to cut salmon, it is important to check that the work area is not dirty or covered with germs. Clean the table or cutting board with a solution of one tablespoon of bleach mixed with four liters of water. Allow the solution to act on the surface for half a minute before cleaning and drying it.
Step 2. Disinfect the knives with a small amount of bleach
To prepare salmon, you will need a small filet knife and a kitchen knife. Sanitize utensils by filling a spray bottle with cold water and then removing the spray nozzle. Soak three-quarters of it in bleach, return it to the bottle and shake well to mix the product with the water. Repeat the process two more times and spray the knives with the solution, letting them act on the blades for ten minutes.
Step 3. Wash knives and hands
After cleaning the knives, use hot water and an antibacterial soap to wash them. Dry utensils carefully with a clean towel when finished. Then wash your hands with antibacterial soap and dry them well with the last step of preparation before handling the fish.
To keep your hands clean, wear disposable kitchen gloves while handling the salmon
Step 4. Dry the fish thoroughly
To prevent the transmission of germs on the work surface, it is recommended to remove excess moisture from the salmon before cutting it into fillets. Use a clean kitchen towel or paper towel to pat it dry.
Part 3 of 4: Cutting a whole salmon into fillets
Step 1. Place the salmon with the back facing you and cut into the backbone
Place fish on a dry, sanitized chopping board near the edge of the work surface. Then take a kitchen knife and insert it into the salmon, right behind the head. Cut through the backbone with a sawing motion in and out until you reach the tip of the fish.
- Tilt knife down toward backbone to remove as much meat as possible.
- When cutting, lift the belly meat so it doesn't get in the way. Thus, cutting through the spine will be easier as it provides better access and continuous movement.
Step 2. Remove the first fillet and set it aside
When you've cut the whole body of the salmon, you'll have the first fillet. Place it on a clean, sanitized plate and set it aside for now.
Step 3. Turn the fish over and repeat the process
Turn the salmon over to place it on its stomach and its head to the right. Cut the second fillet in exactly the same way you cut the first, sawing the knife along the spine until you reach the back of the head.
When you're done, you'll have two fillets, a dorsal column with most of the meat removed and a carcass with the head and fins
Step 4. Discard the housing
When you're done cutting the fillets, you'll have the head, fins, tail, and backbone. Throw it all away or save it to make a fish broth.
Step 5. Remove ribs from fillets
Use a filet knife to gently cut between the rib bones and the meat on each rib. Keep the knife as close to the ribs as possible so as not to remove more meat than necessary.
To make sure you've removed all the ribs, run your fingers over the fish to see if you can feel any leftovers. You can also scrape the knife through the meat to see if there are any ribs
Step 6. Cut the fat
After removing the ribs, use the knife to remove the fat from the fillets. It is usually close to the belly and in the areas where the fins were.
Step 7. Remove the remaining pimples with pliers
There will still be pimples on the fillets you cut from the fish, and you can use pliers to pull them out. Run your thumb along the tips of the pimples and lift them up to catch them with the pliers and remove them.
Part 4 of 4: Cutting Salmon for Sushi
Step 1. Sanitize the work area again before cutting again
Before cutting the salmon for sushi, it is important to clean the work surface again. Use the bleach and water solution to clean the table or cutting board and dry it with a clean towel.
Step 2. Cut the salmon according to the sushi recipe
After you cut the fish into fillets, you'll still need to slice it based on the type of sushi you're making. Follow the recipe to determine the correct way to cut it.
If you have a buyer for salmon fillets, you can start with this Step
Step 3. Slice the salmon to make nigiri
Hold the knife at a 45-degree angle on the end of the fillet. Use a single, smooth motion to cut a thin slice; avoid using the saw movement. The slices should be approximately 3 mm thick. Continue slicing until the entire filet is finished.
Step 4. Cut into cubes to make sashimi
Start by cutting the fillet into 2.5 cm strips. Then cut the strips to approximately 20 mm. Continue cutting until you have formed cubes with the entire filet.
Step 5. Cut long pieces of salmon to make sushi rolls
For rolls, long, thin pieces of fish are generally used. Cut the fillet in half and hold the knife parallel to the longest edge of the piece you are working with. Then slice the salmon to create a piece approximately 1 cm thick. Continue slicing until you have enough fish for the rolls.