salmon chicharron

I stumbled on this technique serendipitously. I was aiming for a flat-baked salmon chip, but it didn't work out as planned. Although, it ended up with a cool effect of looking like glass, it also tasted like glass, or at least, that's what it felt like we were chewing on. It was virtually unpalatable.

Our last attempt of salvaging it before sentencing it to the compost bin was deep-frying it. It crisped up beautifully, and tasted like a very light, salmon-flavored chicharron. I'm pretty proud of this one.

Here's how we did it:

  1. Make sure the fish has been scaled. After butchering the fish, save the skin.
  2. Using a bench scraper, scrape off all of the meat and fat from the skin. It'll take some effort, but the skin is very elastic, and can take a beating, so you can be as rough as you want. You should end up with completely white skin on the flesh side.
  3. Scrape the scale-side of the skin with the bench scraper, too. You should see grey residue seep from the skin. You don't want to taste any of that.
  4. Rinse the skin thoroughly in cold water until the water runs clear.
  5. Squeeze out any excess liquid in the skin, and lay on a sheet pan with towels until completely dry, about 30 minutes.
  6. Season the skin with salt, and sandwich between two well-oiled silpats. You should weigh it down at this point. I used to use another sheet pan on top, but I found an upside down rack works better because the product remains visible, and it actually fits more flush onto the pan.
  7. Bake at 350 F for 15 to 25 minutes, or until the salmon is completely crispy. It should be floppy, and sound like a hand saw.
  8. Break it up into smaller pieces, and deep fry at 325 F until the skin starts to fissure slightly. You can tell when it's ready when the skin stops bubbling.
  9. Drain on paper towels and season immediately with salt and a light dusting of vinegar powder (optional).

That's it. You'll find that this skin is not fishy at all and only inherits a faint essence of salmon, which is just enough.