From one side of salmon, so many cuts. Missing from view: a salmon “rose.” (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

Chef Harald Osa skins a side of salmon. (Bonnie S. Benwick/The Washington Post)

When Osa, 54, came to The Post last week, he brought along American nutritionist Kate Geagan, who provided Nordic factoids as the chef sliced and escalloped. Such as:

* Norwegian ocean-farmed salmon is richer in omega-3s than wild (corrected) salmon (although there is a growing body of evidence pointing to the negatives of the fish).

* Norway pioneered salmon farming in the 1970s.

* Norwegians eat an average 51 pounds of seafood (corrected) per year, compared with Americans’ 15.8 pounds.

The chef chimed in, while his hands kept moving:

* People all over the world tend to overcook fish — and salmon in particular. (I’m thinking that most home cooks don’t whip out their digital, instant-read thermometers for fish the same way they do for steaks, pork roasts and poultry, but they should. For the record, Osa recommends an internal temperature of 130 degrees to 150 degrees, and prefers the low end.)


Lines (fat) should be white. (Bonnie S. Benwick/The Washington Post)

* Ask to smell the fish before you buy it; you’re looking for a clean-ish, briny smell, not a fishy one. If they won’t let you smell it, don’t buy it.

* The (fat) lines within the salmon fillet should be white, not yellow. The latter is a sign that the fish is not as fresh. The beige-brown parts of the fillet are just fatty (and not so bad for you; see the photo below).

* When you handle a so-called side of salmon — especially one that has been skinned — hold it skinned side UP, not down. This will prevent surface breaks in the fish.


DON’T hold the side of salmon this way; it’ll break the surface. Invert it. (Bonnie S. Benwick/The Washington Post)

(Bonnie S. Benwick/The Washington Post)

Still with me? It’s fried salmon skin time.

As nutritionist Geagan was trying to figure out ways to promote its healthful aspects, chef Osa made a someone-else-please-clean-it-up-size mess, scraping the skin free of scales. He made sure to do so while the skin was still on the fillet. Nobody wants to eat fish scales, we agreed.


Save the skin for . . . bacon. (Bonnie S. Benwick/The Washington Post)

Admittedly, he let the oil get a bit too hot. (We distracted him.) Ideally, the nutrient-rich, crisped skins you see below shouldn’t be quite so browned. But, man, they tasted good: as a garnish, as hors d’oeuvres. If you’d rather not fry, Osa said you could lay the strips flat on one baking sheet, skin sides up, sandwich a second baking sheet directly on top of them and bake them in a 350-degree oven for about half an hour. They turn out just as crisp, and not curled.

Think salmon and say it with me: omega-3 bacon.


(Bonnie S. Benwick/The Washington Post)

Further reading:

* Smoked salmon blamed for salmonella outbreak in the Netherlands and United States

* Tomato and Smoked Salmon Pasta

* Grilled Salmon Meatballs With Green Goddess Sauce