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Do You Wash Salmon Before Cooking?

  • 3 min read


Cooking a delicious salmon dish begins long before the fish hits the pan or the grill. It starts with selecting a fresh, high-quality piece of salmon, preparing it properly, and cooking it with care. One common question many home cooks have is, “Do you wash salmon before cooking?”

To Wash or Not to Wash?

The question of whether to wash salmon, or any meat or poultry for that matter, can be somewhat controversial. On one hand, some people believe washing removes bacteria and other potential contaminants. On the other hand, many food safety experts advise against washing meat and fish.

The Food Safety Viewpoint

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends against washing raw meat and fish, including salmon. According to the USDA, washing can lead to cross-contamination. When you wash salmon, the water can splash bacteria onto your clothes, hands, and kitchen surfaces, potentially leading to foodborne illness.

Other Considerations

Apart from cross-contamination concerns, washing salmon might not be necessary for other reasons. For instance, any bacteria present on the fish’s surface will likely be killed during cooking, assuming the fish is cooked to the proper temperature. Furthermore, many agree that rinsing salmon doesn’t significantly impact its taste or texture.

Handling Salmon Safely

While it might not be advisable to wash salmon, handling it properly is crucial to ensure safety. Always keep raw salmon separate from other foods to avoid cross-contamination, and wash your hands, utensils, and cutting boards thoroughly with hot soapy water after they come into contact with raw salmon.

Preparing Your Salmon

Instead of washing, focus on proper preparation. If your salmon comes with skin and you prefer it skinless, you can ask your fishmonger to remove it or do it yourself at home with a sharp, flexible knife. You might also want to check for pin bones, small, thin bones that can sometimes be found in salmon fillets. These can be removed with clean tweezers.

Conclusion: A Focus on Cooking

In summary, washing salmon before cooking isn’t typically recommended. Instead, concentrate on cooking your salmon to the right internal temperature – the USDA suggests a minimum internal temperature of 145°F (63°C) for fish – to ensure any potential bacteria are killed. With proper handling and cooking, you’ll have a delicious, safe-to-eat salmon dish ready to impress.

Note: This information is based on food safety guidelines and recommendations, but when in doubt, always consult with a professional or trusted source.