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How to Buy and Trim a Side of Salmon

By Cook's Illustrated Published May 2018

Preparing to cook a side of salmon? Read this before heading to the grocery store.

A side of salmon—that is, a single fillet that runs the length of the fish—typically weighs between 4 and 5 pounds. Most of the fillet is uniformly thick and will cook evenly; however, the tail end tapers, so we prefer to trim off that portion if the fillet weighs more than the recipe calls for.

Ideally, your fishmonger will remove the tail portion for you, but you can easily do it yourself with a sharp knife. We also recommend trimming off the belly fat, which is a heavily marbled strip that runs most of the length of the fillet. If you trim the salmon yourself, save the excess for making salmon cakes or gravlax.