Do You Wash Salmon Before Cooking – The Surprising Answer

Published Categorized as Fish Or Seafood, Kitchen Hacks

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Like most fish, salmon is incredibly healthy and nutritious, providing a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, iron, and vitamins to your body. The preparation required to cook salmon correctly is important because we want to make sure that we have thoroughly killed bacteria, prevent cross-contamination, which could ultimately spread bacteria, and so much more. When handling meat, it’s almost second nature to run the raw meat under a faucet before proceeding with preparations. So how do we prepare salmon properly? And does it require a thorough wash before cooking? Here are some surprising answers for you!

Table of Contents

Do You Rinse Salmon?

There are a variety of opinions about whether any type of meat should be washed prior to cooking. Some believe that attempting to rinse raw fish like salmon can be risky, as the harmful bacteria can easily spread on surfaces and other foods.

For those wondering whether you should rinse salmon before cooking, know that rinsing salmon can lead to the rapid and widespread of bacteria, resulting in food poisoning. Rinsing salmon will in no way eliminate harmful bacteria from its flesh, rather, it will spread further. The best way to kill bacteria and prepare a very safe eating salmon is to cook the fish until its internal temperature reaches 145°F.

Do You Wash Salmon Before Cooking

The USDA cautions: “do not rinse raw fish, seafood, meat, and poultry. Bacteria in these raw juices can splash and spread to other foods and surfaces. Cooking foods thoroughly will kill harmful bacteria.”

How to Remove Bacteria From Salmon?

The only way to assure that your salmon is safe for consumption is to cook using fresh salmon properly. refrain from using salmon that has been refrigerated or left on the kitchen counter for far too long. Your salmon should be fresh and reach an internal temperature of 130 degrees F before it is deemed safe to consume.

Washing your salmon in an attempt to clean it is both ineffective and quite dangerous, so trust the cooking process and keep your salmon out of the water!

How to Cook Salmon?

Salmon is usually found in a variety of forms, such as whole fish, fillets, and steaks. You can quite easily prepare and cook your fresh salmon fillets without fear of overcooking or undercooking it.

Whether you choose to grill, bake, pan fry, broil or poach your salmon until you achieve that perfectly cooked flaky salmon, a healthier alternative to cooking salmon without fat is to bake it in the oven. Simply place the salmon on a baking pan, skin side down, and spread some olive oil all over the flesh. Season with freshly ground black pepper, kosher salt, and other herbs of your choice.

Some herbs that are great at enhancing the salmon’s flavor include parsley, dill, basil, thyme, sage, rosemary, or bay leaves. Bake the salmon in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes at 425°F or until it is cooked evenly, at an internal temperature of 145°F, with a tender, moist and creamy texture.

You can eat salmon skin, and if the idea of salmon skin gets your taste buds tingling, then try this method of preparation. Pan-fry the skin so that it becomes perfectly crispy, then dry the salmon with some paper towels to eliminate the excess moisture, and season with kosher salt and black pepper.

Place the salmon, skin side down, into a pan with hot oil, and cook for around 5 minutes. Carefully switch it to its other side and cook for 30 seconds.

If your salmon happens to be thicker than an inch, it’ll require more time to cook. Once the salmon reaches an internal temperature of 145°F, remove it from the pan and let it rest for several minutes before serving.

Cleaning Salmon with Lemon

If you firmly believe in washing salmon to help clean and eliminate its flesh from impurities, then try lemon juice. Lemon juice is a great method for cleaning the salmon, neutralizing the smell, and eliminating some dangerous bacteria. The citric acid from the lemon juice alters the protein structure of the salmon, making it nice and tender.

In a bowl of cold water, squeeze a single lemon, and plop the salmon inside. After 10 minutes, remove the salmon from the bowl and pat it dry using paper towels. Season the lemon-doused salmon with salt, ground black pepper, and your choice of herbs to suit your preference.

Keep in mind that your salmon should not remain in the bowl of lemon juice water for more than 10 minutes because you will end up with a tough and dry salmon with a very apparent lemon flavor.

Do You Wash Salmon Before Cooking

Should You Wash Salmon Before Marinating?

Just like you wouldn’t wash your salmon for baking, grilling, poaching, or frying, you certainly shouldn’t wash your salmon before marinating.

A marinade is used to soften the texture of the fish, as well as tenderize and enhance its flavors. But if you were to wash the salmon before marinating, you’ll only be causing more harm than good, spreading bacteria all over nearby surfaces and utensils, potentially leading to food poisoning.

Thoroughly cooking the salmon will effectively kill the harmful bacteria, and there are many varieties to go for. The time required to marinate your salmon will depend on the size of the salmon as well as the ingredients used in the marinade.

You can marinate your salmon in an acid-based marinade in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or up to 6 hours. The longer your salmon remains marinated, the softer it will become, so take care otherwise, you’ll end up with mushy salmon! Once your salmon has marinated, it’s ready to cook.

Should You Rinse Frozen Salmon Before Cooking?

Frozen salmon is sold in prewrapped packaging, in which case you should discard the packaging and rinse the salmon under cold water to remove the layer of ice. Once that’s done, you can cook your clean salmon.

Rinsing the salmon is a partial necessity for the cooking process, as it helps eliminate ice and makes the overall process very efficient.

Do You Wash Salmon Before Cooking

Should You Rinse Refrigerated Salmon Before Cooking?

As for washing or rinsing your refrigerated salmon, the answer still remains the same. Rather it’s not advised to wash frozen or refrigerated salmon as this will only cause the spread of potentially harmful bacteria. For any pre-packaged refrigerated salmon, running the fillet under cold water for a few seconds and then patting it dry with a paper towel should suffice.

Should You Rinse Fish Before Cooking?

Absolutely not, do not put any type of fish in a sink full of water or run the fish under a tap of water. However, if your fish happens to have remnants of fish scales, intestines, or other kinds of dirt attached to the flesh, then you can rinse it under a low flow of cold water. After that, pat the salmon fillets dry with paper towels, eliminating all moisture before proceeding with your recipe.

If the fish has been cleaned and refrigerated at an appropriate temperature, then there is no need to rinse it under cold running water because this can change the flavor of the fish. But if you stubbornly decide to wash it, then don’t forget to wipe down the surfaces and kitchenware with any antibacterial cloth to avoid the chances of food poisoning.

Why Do Some People Wash Salmon?

People who wash their meat with the assumption that it helps eliminate bacteria are automatically inclined to do the same for salmon, especially if the salmon isn’t very fresh. While washing your salmon may remove bacteria, they’re more likely to spread around your kitchen, where they can begin to multiply rapidly on the surfaces near other foods.

In some cases, washing a little aged salmon isn’t as bad as washing fresh salmon. However, it’s recommended to completely refrain from washing any type of seafood, so it’s better that you transfer your salmon to a pan of vegetable oil without bathing it with water.

If you really want to wash your salmon, make sure you’re using fresh, clean water, keeping all soap and detergent away from your hands or fish, as it may seep into the flesh of the fish, ruining the flavor and deeming it unsafe for consumption.

How to Wash Salmon Safely?

If you’re still adamant about washing your salmon, then there are some necessary steps to ensure the safety of doing so.

Firstly you should prepare all non-meat products for your recipe, then wash the salmon, taking care that your sink is thoroughly cleaned, as well as the nearby surfaces.

Before you fetch your salmon from the fridge, wash, peel and chop any vegetables you need for your dish. This will reduce the chance of cross-contamination when washing the fish.

All foods that aren’t needed in your current recipe, such as bread and pasta, must be removed from the salmon’s proximity when washing. Foods that you intend to cook with your salmon shouldn’t be at a risk, but it’s better to have them washed and cleaned before the salmon.

After this, you must take care of your sink and surrounding surfaces, thoroughly scrubbing your sink and drainer with detergent and hot water.

What to Do if Salmon Smells Fishy?

You might have noticed the lingering potent aroma emanating from your salmon, especially when you’re cooking it. Usually, people take this as a sign to take the fish back to the sink and begin to thoroughly wash the salmon, but truly you should try to avoid this action. Buying high-quality salmon will minimize the problem.

Ultimately, raw fish will always carry a distinct smell, but normally, fresh fish of good quality won’t smell as potent, especially when raw. You shouldn’t be able to smell the fish as soon as you remove it from your fridge, and it certainly shouldn’t cause members of the household any discomfort from the smell!

Though washing your salmon may reduce the fishy smell, it’s better to avoid the smell in the first place. Always opt for the very fresh salmon fillets when purchasing your salmon. Also, if you’re not planning to use your salmon any time soon, then pop them in the freezer till you’re ready to cook with them.

Generally, salmon should carry a scent akin to the sea, though if yours happens to be very fishy, it may be unsafe to consume.

Preparing Salmon

Much like the idea of thoroughly washing salmon, there are many theories and misconceptions when it comes to preparing and cooking this fish. So let’s get to the bottom of them!


When it comes to the skin of your salmon, you’re probably wondering whether you should keep it or remove it altogether. Many people who enjoy the taste of salmon also quite enjoy the fish with its skin on, though there is a good handful that prefers to eat it with the skin off. If you aren’t a particular fan of the taste and texture of salmon skin, then simply remove it using a sharp knife before cooking.

Overall keeping the skin of salmon intact while cooking will improve the taste, as this will allow the fish to retain its moisture, making for a pleasant meal.

If you’re wondering how to remove the skin from salmon, check out these 4 super simple techniques that’ll save time and energy!

Do You Wash Salmon Before Cooking


Seasoning your chicken is challenging in itself, but seasoning your fish can be difficult because you wouldn’t know where to start. You wonder whether you’re under-seasoning or over-seasoning your salmon, so what could possibly be the right way forward?

Although salmon naturally imparts sharp flavors, it responds well to seasonings. Glaze your salmon with a splash of olive oil, followed by a generous sprinkle of salt, as well as some of your favorite herbs and spices.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with a variety of flavors, but at the same time, try not to douse your salmon in seasonings, as this could potentially divert the attention from your salmon altogether.

Cooking Time

Understanding your salmon cooking time might be one of the most challenging areas when it comes to handling your salmon fillets. For instance, you can attempt to cook your salmon by broiling, baking, grilling, or frying, so whatever tickles your fancy!

If, for instance, you’re trying to achieve a medium rare salmon fillet, you should cook your fish at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

How to Tell if Your Salmon Has Gone Bad?

Much like many types of poultry, it is possible for your salmon to go bad. This can occur due to storage, cross-contamination, and more. Here are some clear indicators of a salmon that has gone bad.


Since salmon is a fish, and fish carry a distinct “fishy smell,” you may find yourself befuddled at judging whether you’re smelling rotten fish or just plain fish. Salmon should carry a mild fish scent, smelling more fresh than overpowering and unpleasantly fishy.


Another sign to look out for is the color of your salmon’s flesh. Salmon should carry a raw pinkish tone. If you notice that your salmon’s pink shade has faded, transitioning into a greyish tinge, then this is a clear indication that your grey salmon must be disposed of immediately.


Place your fingertips against the salmon’s flesh, you should feel a light bounce once you pull your fingers away. If your salmon sinks under your weight, however, then perhaps your salmon has turned bad, and it’s time to throw it away.


Similar to touch, this test requires your fingers as well. Your salmon should bounce back into its original position, as well as remain solid and sturdy. If your salmon breaks apart under your weight, then this is a bad sign.

How do You Clean Salmon Fillets?

Rinsing your salmon won’t benefit your salmon in terms of cleanliness; however, if you’re really uncomfortable with cooking a salmon fillet without washing the fish beforehand, then run the fillet under cold running water prior to cooking.

Can You Clean Salmon With Vinegar?

To remove the distinct fish scent from your salmon fillet, simply sprinkle a light drizzle of vinegar over your fish 30 minutes before cooking.

How to Know When Salmon is Ready?

During the cooking process, salmon transforms from red and raw to a more pinkish shade. After 6 to 8 minutes of cooking, you can check the doneness of the fish by poking the thickest part of its flesh with a knife. Once the fish starts to crumble at the slight intrusion, coupled with a slight translucent shade, then it’s ready to eat.

Do You Wash Salmon For Sushi?

Salmon is one of the many popular fish used in sushi, nigiri, and sashimi. Washing your salmon is still highly discouraged, but you can give it a brief rinse before wiping down the surrounding surfaces.

The freshness and cleanliness of the salmon are absolutely essential when making sushi. Since you’ll be touching your salmon at every step before it reaches the table, you must ensure that your kitchen surfaces are wiped down before working with it.

Do You Wash Salmon Before Cooking

How to Make Salmon Steaks?

There are many ways to cook and enjoy your salmon steaks. Learning how to cook this impeccable and nutritious fish will allow you to bring forth some restaurant-quality meals in no time. The process is simple and fairly easy, producing a perfectly cooked fish that is both moist and rich in flavor. For this delightful dish, you’ll need:

  • Salmon steaks: While steak fillets are a more popular cut of fish, the appearance of salmon steaks is more appealing, not to mention incredibly flavourful. Moreover, they happen to be easier to cook with, remaining moist thanks to the skin and bones, similar to other cuts of meat. Always opt for wild-caught salmon instead of farmed salmon whenever available.
  • Seasoning: When it comes to seasoning your steaks (or any cut of fish), I find that simpler seasonings bring forth better flavors without overpowering the fish with an insane amount of herbs and spices. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and some chili flakes if you’re a fan of that little kick! Whatever you choose to season your salmon steaks with, bear in mind that you should avoid overpowering the natural and delicious flavor of your steaks.
  • Compound Butter: You can make this by mashing some chopped fresh herbs into some salted butter, allowing your steak to release more flavors.

Making Salmon Steaks

Begin by generously seasoning your salmon steaks on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, drop some olive oil into the pan, then arrange your seasoned salmon steaks in the pan. Cook them for 3 to 5 minutes on either side. Serve this with your favorite accompaniment, and enjoy!

How to Make Salmon Flakes?

Try this homemade flaked salmon salad with baked rice, a simple omega-3 flourished salad loaded with incredible textures and flavors to enjoy with your main meal or as a simple afternoon snack!

Bottom Line

There is no need to rinse your salmon, or any type of poultry for that matter, as this will only exceed the chances of contamination, essentially spreading harmful bacteria to your kitchen surfaces and other foods. You can, however, wash your salmon if you really want to by briefly running the fillet under cold water, then patting it dry with some paper towels before proceeding with the rest of your preparations.


Do I Need to Wash Fish Before Cooking?

While you won’t need to wash raw fish before cooking, you do need to rinse shellfish, clams, and mussels. They can be filled with sand and grit, so you’ll need to rinse that out entirely before cooking.

How do You Clean Raw Salmon?

Cleaning raw salmon is a simple process that requires maximum attentiveness. For a whole salmon, you’ll need to discard the head, and tail, then remove the fish scales. Then get rid of the guts and proceed to fillet the salmon. Remove the spine. ribs and tiny but deadly fish bones. Remove the skin if you prefer, and immediately prepare for cooking.

How do You Clean Pink Salmon?

Lay your pink salmon fillet flat against the surface, and using a sharp knife slice along the edges of the ribs, and remove them completely.

How do You get the Fishy Taste out of Salmon?

Try soaking your fish in milk for 20 minutes before cooking. The protein in the milk blends with the fishy odors and removes them entirely, leaving a sweeter, brighter, and cleaner fish.