How to Remove Skin from Fish

We love the delicious, crispy skin on fish. Fish skin helps retain moisture, prevent overcooking, and preserve flavor during cooking. However, the skin of fish is not desirable in some dishes. Some people prefer to have the skin removed for various reasons, such as appearance, wanting a smoother texture, or a slightly milder flavor. Here are three ways to remove skin from fish from our fish experts at Fulton Fish Market.

How to Remove Skin After Cooking
  • Once the fish is cooked, let it rest for a few minutes. Allowing the fish to rest helps the flesh to firm up slightly, making it easier to handle.
  • Place the portion skin side up and rub the skin off gently with the side of a fork. If the skin is crispy, simply place the portion skin side up and peel off the skin.


How to Remove Skin Before Cooking: use Boiling Water

Removing skin from fish using hot boiling water before cooking is fast and leaves you with a clean portion and no discarded meat cut away with the skin. However, this method takes a bit longer than removing the fish skin after cooking, and it may start to slightly cook the fish.

  • Place the fish portion skin side up in a heat-resistant dish.
  • Pour boiling water over the fish, hitting the skin directly, until you reach the edge of the portion.
  • Immediately after, grab the skin at the corner and peel back and off the portion.
  • Remove the portion from the water promptly, to reduce further cooking in the hot water, and dry off with a paper towel before cooking.


How to Remove Skin Before Cooking: using a Knife (ask Joe’s to do for you!)

Removing the skin from fish with a knife before cooking requires some practice but provides a very clean-cut portion. Ask Joe’s to do it for you, it’s a free service!

Start with a clean and dry cutting board and knife and lay out a few paper towels to help grip and catch any scales or fish bits that may fall during the process.

  • Place the fish fillet or portion skin-side down on the cutting board. Hold it steady with one hand, keeping your fingers tucked away to avoid accidents.
  • Start at one of the edges of the fish. It is easiest to begin at the narrowest end.
  • With the knife, make a small incision close to the tail down to the skin.
  • Angle the knife blade slightly downwards towards the skin, almost parallel to the cutting board. This will help separate the skin from the flesh more effectively.
  • With your free hand, grasp the loose edge of the skin. It's usually a bit tougher to get a good grip, so you can use a paper towel for better traction if needed.
  • Push the knife forward while pulling the skin back, ideally in one clean motion. If there is tension, gently move the knife back and forth minimally to cut through.
  • Once you've removed the skin from the entire fillet or portion, you may have some remaining small bits of skin or scales. Carefully use the knife or kitchen shears to trim these away. Inspect the fillet or portion to ensure that all skin and scales have been removed.
  • Rinse the fillet or portion under cold running water to remove any lingering scales or skin fragments, then pat the fish fillet or portion dry with a paper towel.