Recipe: Crispy Salmon Skin
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Hali Bey Ramdene
May 12, 2016
(Image credit: Andrea D'Agosto)

Diane Morgan says there are two types of salmon eaters: the ones who like to eat crisp salmon skin and the ones who think eating the skin in any form is disgusting. I think it's more like those who love salmon skin (the camp in which I am firmly planted) and those who haven't experienced it at its best — ultra-crispy and cooked separate from the salmon itself until it tastes like, well, bacon.

(Image credit: Andrea D'Agosto)

Yep, I'm pulling the bacon card. I was saving this to say to you because it's kind of a secret weapon when it comes to convincing people that salmon skin alone is worth the effort (and it's a minimal effort, to be fair) of cooking it up to eat. Salmon skin is the bacon of the sea. That notion rings especially true in this recipe, where it's seasoned with soy sauce and light brown sugar. I don't know about you, but my mind immediately goes to a SBLT sandwich. SB being salmon bacon, of course.

I save up a ton of salmon skin in the freezer until I have enough to whip up a big batch of crispy skin to use in omelets, fried rice, and sandwiches.

Salmon skin lovers unite!

Crispy Salmon Skin

Makes 1 or 2 crispy salmon skins from a whole fish or fillet; yield varies based on amount of salmon skin used

3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons firmly packed golden or light brown sugar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Scaled skin from 1 or 2 sides of salmon fillet
Nonstick cooking spray

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the soy sauce, water, and brown sugar and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice. Set the marinade aside to cool.

Meanwhile, stretch the salmon skin, flesh-side up, on a cutting board. Using a paring knife, carefully scrape away any bits of salmon fat or flesh. (This is important because the skin won’t crisp if it isn’t scraped clean.) Transfer the skin to a 1-quart freezer-strength lock-top plastic bag.

Pour the marinade over the skin, force all the air out of the bag, and seal the bag. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or, preferably, overnight. Remove the bag from the refrigerator 1 hour before baking.

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 275°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and generously coat the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

Remove the salmon skin from the marinade, draining off the excess. Discard the marinade. Stretch the salmon skin on the prepared baking sheet so it is perfectly flat, pressing down on the edges if they have curled up.

Bake the skin for 30 minutes and then check the progress. At this point, the skin should still be flabby. Continue to bake the skin, checking it every 10 minutes, until it is crisp and dry. The drying time will vary between 40 and 60 minutes, depending on humidity and the accuracy of the oven temperature. You want the sugar to caramelize but not burn, so keep a close eye on the skin toward the end of cooking.

When the skin is ready, set the pan aside until the skin cools, and then carefully remove it from the foil. Break it into shards and serve. It is best used the day it is made, although it can be wrapped in foil and set aside at room temperature for up to 1 day. To re-crisp the skin, sandwich it between two sheets of foil and set it under the broiler to heat through and crisp.

Reprinted with permission from Salmon by Diane Morgan, copyright (c) 2016. Published by Chronicle Books.
(Image credit: Diane Morgan)

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