How to Eat Canned Salmon

“How do you eat canned salmon?” is a common query from folks we meet at our food demonstrations.

Serving salmon sample at Whole Foods Market
Serving salmon sample at Whole Foods Market

Canned Alaska salmon, especially in its traditional form, can be somewhat of a mystery food to the uninitiated. Complete with skin and bone, ‘traditional pack’ canned salmon I like to think of as the food symbol of the great, raw, wild, supremely healthy country that it came from Alaska.

People who have eaten canned salmon since childhood are comfortable with the presence of the highly nutritious skin and bone, sometimes claiming to having fought with their siblings over who got those delicious crunchy little vertebrae.

Two cans of salmon, Redhead and Thinkpink 'traditional' pack, as is, completely unadorned
Two cans of salmon, Redhead and Thinkpink ‘traditional’ pack, as is, completely unadorned

Other of us, often, ironically, from the salmon rich west coast, are puzzled, if not repelled by the presence of those highly nutritious anatomical parts that we mostly do not see in today’s highly processed foods. I look at a deboned chicken breast or pork and there is little there to remind us of the living, breathing creature that once is now that hunk of defenseless flesh.

Not so with canned Alaska salmon that skin and bone is a badge of the life that was lived by that beautiful creature that felt the drive to leave its natal stream, traveling the Pacific Ocean for thousands of miles, and then return to its exact place of birth.

Redhead wild Alaska sockeye salmon, straight from the waters of the great Bristol Bay, on a bagel
Redhead wild Alaska sockeye salmon, straight from the waters of the great Bristol Bay, on a bagel

I have said this many times, and it is true, when mixed into recipes those skin and bone seemingly dissolve into the recipe. We have served various canned salmon recipes to thousands of people, and not once has the person detected the skin and bone, though we quickly tell them. Traditional pack salmon has nearly double the long chain omega 3 fatty acids as skinless and boneless canned salmon fillets (which are delicious, too) and also provides calcium due to the presence of the bone.

How to Eat Canned Salmon;

  • Straight Out of the Can! Just open the can, maybe squeeze on some lemon, and fork on! There is simply not an easier, better protein source than canned Alaska salmon.
  • Finely chop celery, add salmon, whether Redhead (sockeye) or Thinkpink (pink) salmon, squeeze on lemon and put on a dollop of cocktail sauce.
  • Drain a little of the naturally occurring juices (the oily liquid in the can comes solely from the fish itself, there is nothing added but a little salt), then add a little olive oil plus some chopped onion. That really evens the flavor out in a very delicious way
  • Forrest Gump Says, “Salmon Cakes, Salmon Salad, Salmon On A Bagel, Salmon Chowder, Salmon Pasta, Salmon Wraps, Salmon Cocktail…”

Eat canned salmon at lunch, or better yet breakfast, like the Japanese or Scandinavians, and see if the hunger pains don’t stay away for hours. There something unique about protein from coldwater fatty fish that satiates like none other.

Delish, low calorie and energy sustaining!

26 thoughts on “How to Eat Canned Salmon

    1. The use of country in this instance is referring to just a land mass as opposed to a country like the United States is a country; thanks for looking out though.

  1. How long can and open can of salmon stay in the refrigerator… And i can defintely you say eat it from the can…can i also use the blue can to make salmon cakes?

    1. I usually try to eat it within a couple of days, but mostly because of taste not safety. You can use any cans to make salmon cakes!

  2. Appreciate this because tonight opened my first can of red sockeye salmon and admit it – I was grossed out! Using it for salmon cakes and glad to read here that mixed into a recipe it’s undetectable.

    1. Made my first round of salmon patties tonight, thought it had bones because I bought a brand other than Starkist! I called my mom to complain about the bones and she said I’ve been eating them for years, lol. That was after I had grabbed a second bowl and meticulously picked out all of the vertebrae. Lesson learned, but still gross.

  3. Just had a salmon sandwich using my first can of salmon. I scraped away the skin, wondering if it was OK to eat. Also drained the liquid before researching on computer. Guess everything in the can is OK to eat + being good for you. If you say it’s OK I will look forward to buying more canned.
    Thank you.

    1. We encourage eating both the skin and bones! They are pressure cooked so they are unnoticeable when mashed up and full of nutrition.

    1. There are lots of nutrients in the skin as well as the bones. Are you talking about our canned fillet product or a raw product? As far as the white stuff it is most definitely healthy fats that come to the surface; very good for you!

    1. The ‘best by’ date id five years after processing, but ‘best by’ is a term declaring optimal quality, not shelf life. In the old days, I am told, the canners used to turn the cans upside down every six months to keep the oils migrating through the meat.

  4. I have never eaten Salmon, although I have tried many times. It is entirely too “fishy” for me. My Mother said I got my “weird” tastes from my dad. Maybe, because he and I didn’t eat any seafood or fresh water fish, and avoided a few other things. However, my family swears I make the best Salmon cakes/patties in the country (shhh, no cracks about how they must not get around much). Anyway, I remember the bones from when my mom would make the cakes/patties, and how they would just go away to nothing as she mixed up the patties. I saw her make the patties so many times, I knew the first time I made them how to make “hers”. She’s gone, but reading articles like this whisks me right back to the kitchen, and I can see me watching her. I have nothing to add really, just a little thanks for that trip down memory lane.

    1. What a nice comment, and for my trip down memory lane as a result of your memories shared. Salmon cakes are a comfort food for many. I want to taste these best salmon patties in the country. Are you willing to share your secret?

    1. Canned wild Alaska salmon is darned good stuff, and so great for health & happiness that comes from health! I like capers and onions and lemon..yummmm

      1. First time I had it.. mixed it up with a bit of green onion chunks and pickles, with a dab of mayo…mixed it all up on the plate.. Delicious!

    1. Canned salmon is fully cooked. You can eat it straight out of the can, or make it into recipes. Is the answer you were seeking?
      Thanks!

  5. Thanks a million for this post. I bought a can of Portside canned salmon from Sav a Lot. I wanted to mix it with mayo and make a sandwich. Nowhere on the can did is say “cooked”. It looked cooked, but I haven’t worked in the grocery industry for 40 years so I could not be sure. I saw it was salted, so that made me feel I could risk eating it if it was raw. Not sure, I scrapped off the skin, chopped it up and put it in a pan for 10 minutes. Then I mixed it with the mayo and made a sandwich. There is easily enough for a second sandwich, so I will look forward to that, now I know there are no food safety risks.

    My only minor niggle is that I wish the first sentence of this post was, “Canned salmon is pre-cooked.” It was only in the comments that I saw this was the case. Thanks for the helpful explanation, and the great advice about eating the skin. I saw bones but they would break up into tiny bits, I assume because of the salt. I did not notice any bones when I ate the sandwich.

    The recipe on the side of the can was for fried patties, so no hint on the pre-cooked nature of the salmon. That is why I thought it might be raw. The sandwich was great, and much milder than a tuna fish sandwich. I added pepper, maybe too much since the taste of salmon did not come through as strong as I expected.

    I assume Portside is a competitor, but they owe you a loyal customer next time you see them at the Canned Salmon Conference and Exposition, if there is such a thing.

    1. That is a funny thought, ‘Canned Salmon Conference and Exposition.’ There are plenty of seafood expositions, but none dedicated to canned salmon. It is pretty impressive, however, the warehouses in Seattle that store all the Alaska canned salmon. They are vast, three stories high buildings. Yes, canned salmon is very cooked, pressure cooked, under the very watchful eye of FDA inspectors. Portside is a competitor, but canned salmon people are pretty civilized bunch, due, possibly to all calming nutritional benefits of this great food, so it is a friendly competition.
      Thanks for your nice commentary.

  6. Growing up in the 60’s, it was a great night when my mother made salmon cakes for dinner. I can remember picking out the bones to eat first and felt cheated if my sister got more bones than I did, lol.

    As others have noted, you can’t tell the bones and skin are in the salmon as they are extremely soft. Also, unlike fresh salmon filets, the canned salmon is very moist and flavorful due to pressure cooking which seals in juices and oils. The only concerns I have with salmon of any kind are the mercury levels and toxin content, whether it be canned or fresh.

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