Salmon skin is in fact edible, although it may not be terribly exciting, depending on how the salmon was prepared. The scales are not edible, however, so if a cook plans to eat the skin, he or she should make sure that it is well scaled. While the scales are unlikely to kill a diner, they can cut the mouth or become lodged in the throat, causing extreme discomfort.
Many cooking techniques for salmon create moist, flavorful fish and rather boring skin. Like the skin of poultry, salmon skin tastes best when it has been cooked to be light and crispy, rendering out the fat underneath and creating a crunchy, flavorful food. In some regions of the world, the skin is actually eaten on its own as a crispy snack, and some sushi restaurants will put it in rolls when this delicacy is available.
Grilled salmon skin is often quite tasty and flavorful, because the grilling process crisps it. It is also possible to make broiled salmon with skin that tastes good, although the skin of roasted, poached, and steamed salmon tends to be rather flaccid and rubbery. Leaving the skin on during the cooking process, however, will ensure that the meat stays moist and tender by providing a layer of insulation between the flesh and the heat of the cooking medium.
When a shopper purchases salmon with its skin on and knows that the skin will be eaten, he or she should check it carefully to make sure that the scales are removed. Although most fish that is sent to market is scaled, it is always possible to miss a few, especially when fish is being harvested on a large commercial scale. A cook may want to run a fish scaler or knife over the salmon to remove any errant scales; the fish should be scaled over a garbage can or in the yard, as they can clog a drain.
To make skin more flavorful, the chef can marinate the salmon overnight to ensure that the skin and flesh absorb the flavor. He or she may also want to baste the skin as the fish grills, encouraging it to crisp up. Cooks who are broiling or baking the salmon should position the fish on a rack for cooking to encourage liquids and fats to drain off, so that the skin becomes crisp without any soft, soggy spots.