The etiquette rules on how to serve and eat salmon. Tips to be the ideal host or the perfect guest and avoid any embarrassment.

What salmon etiquette is

Salmon etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and eat salmon. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect your hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are hosting, follow the etiquette to serve salmon to your guests appropriately.

As a guest, respect the etiquette rules to properly eat salmon at the dining table and avoid offending your hosts or embarrassing yourself.

how to serve and eat salmon

What you should know about salmon

Salmon are a type of fish that belong to the family Salmonidae. They are found in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic Oceans and are an important food source for both humans and wildlife.

Salmon typically have a silvery-blue color and a streamlined body. Their texture is firm and they have a rich, buttery flavor.

Etiquette rules to serve and eat salmon

1) How to store salmon

The ideal temperature to store salmon is between 32°F to 38°F (0°C to 3°C). Salmon can be stored in the pantry for up to one day, in the fridge for up to three days, and in the freezer for up to six months. To store salmon, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place it in an airtight container or resealable bag.

Sliced or cooked salmon can be stored in the fridge for up to three days. To store, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place it in an airtight container or resealable bag.

2) How to clean salmon

To clean salmon, rinse it under cold water and pat it dry with a paper towel. There is a risk of foodborne illness when handling raw fish, so it’s important to clean all surfaces and utensils that come into contact with the fish. You can use a fillet knife to remove the skin and bones from the salmon.

You can tell if salmon has turned bad if it has a sour or ammonia-like odor, a slimy texture, or if the flesh is discolored.

3) How to prepare & cook salmon

Salmon can be eaten raw or cooked. To prepare salmon for cooking, rinse it under cold water and pat it dry with a paper towel. You can use a fillet knife to remove the skin and bones from the salmon. Common ways to cook salmon include grilling, baking, broiling, and poaching. You can use a variety of utensils and appliances to prepare and cook salmon, such as a grill, oven, broiler, and skillet.

Salmon is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes, including salads, sandwiches, and smoothies. Some popular salmon dishes include smoked salmon, salmon cakes, and salmon sushi rolls.

Salmon is not suitable for vegans but can be eaten on a keto or paleo diet. Some people may have allergies or food intolerances to salmon, and there are no religious dietary restrictions that forbid eating salmon.

4) How to serve & present salmon

Salmon is appropriate for both formal and informal meals. You can serve it for breakfast, brunch, or even as a snack. You can serve it as a side dish, main course, or appetizer.

The most polite way to serve salmon is on a platter or serving dish. The ideal serving temperature is of 120°F to 140°F (49°C to 60°C). You can use a serving fork, spoon, or tongs to serve the salmon.

You can serve salmon with a variety of seasonings and accompaniments, such as dill, lemon, garlic, and capers.

5) Food and wine to pair salmon with

Salmon pairs well with a variety of flavors, condiments, spices, and herbs. It pairs well with vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, and green beans, and fruits like citrus and berries. Some vegetable and fruit pairings to avoid include those with strong flavors that overpower the salmon, such as Brussels sprouts and pineapple.

Salmon can go well with cheese and dairy, and pairs well with soft cheeses like goat cheese and cream cheese. It is best to avoid it with strong or pungent cheeses like blue cheese.

You can pair salmon with some meats, such as bacon, prosciutto, or pancetta. However, it is not common to pair it with meat. When it comes to fish pairings, salmon goes well with other seafood like scallops, shrimp, and lobster. It is also a popular ingredient in sushi and sashimi.

Salmon can pair well with both red and white wines. A medium-bodied red wine such as Pinot Noir or Merlot can complement the flavor of salmon, while a crisp white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay can also pair well. Rosé wine, sparkling wine, and dessert wine can also work well. Beer and spirits can be a good choice too.

6) How to eat salmon

When it comes to etiquette for eating salmon, it is polite to use a fish fork and knife. It is not polite to eat it with your hands. It is common to discard the skin.

Salmon etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. Read more about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the most common salmon etiquette mistakes:

  • 7/10. Not properly cooking the salmon.
  • 5/10. Using too much seasoning.
  • 5/10. Not removing the skin before serving.

Additional information for properly serving salmon

How many calories per serving?

Counting calories is important to stay healthy and correctly plan a menu.

The calorie content of salmon can vary depending on the type of salmon and the cooking method. On average, a 3-ounce serving of salmon contains around 121-200 calories.

How to buy the best salmon

A crucial factor in salmon etiquette is serving your guests the best product possible.

Season and availability 

Salmon is available all year round. The best season to buy salmon can vary depending on the type of salmon and where it is sourced from. Wild salmon is typically in season during the summer months, while farmed salmon is available year-round.

Choose the best

Salmon can be found in commerce in a variety of ways, including fresh, frozen, canned, and smoked. Fresh salmon is typically sold at seafood markets or grocery stores, while frozen salmon and canned salmon can be found in most grocery stores. Smoked salmon is often sold at specialty food stores or online.

Some of the most popular varieties of salmon in commerce include Atlantic salmon, Pacific salmon, and sockeye salmon. King salmon and Coho salmon are also popular varieties. Wild-caught salmon is generally considered more prized than farmed salmon, as it is believed to have a more natural flavor and higher nutritional value.

When buying salmon, look for fish that has firm, bright-colored flesh and a fresh, ocean-like scent. The skin should be shiny and the scales should be intact. Avoid fish that has a strong and fishy odor, looks discolored, or has a slimy texture.

Alternatives to salmon

Some common alternatives to salmon include other types of fish, such as trout, Arctic char, tuna, or cod.