Is It Safe To Rinse Salmon Before Cooking? The Experts Weigh In

You pull the salmon from its packaging. Can it go straight to cooking, or should you wash it first?

<p>Simply Recipes / Getty Images</p>

Simply Recipes / Getty Images

My husband loves salmon—so much that he even eats it for breakfast. When he buys fresh salmon filets, he always cooks them right out of the package, but he wonders if he should clean them first.

“Some folks like to give their salmon a good rinse before cooking it. They do this to get rid of things like sand and dirt,” says Qinchun Rao, Ph.D., professor of food and nutrition at Florida State University and chair of the Aquatic Food Products Division at the Institute of Food Technologists. “They think this not only makes the salmon cleaner for cooking but also helps get rid of any bacteria, especially if the salmon isn’t super fresh."

Salmon-washers might also believe that rinsing the seafood first can help erase any fishy taste or smell and improve the fish's texture.

However, both the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advise that you shouldn’t wash any fresh seafood before cooking it.

“They say that if you rinse the fish under running water, any bacteria that might be on the surface can spread to other parts of the fish or even to other things in your kitchen. This could make people sick,” says Rao.

So, strictly from a scientific point of view, it’s not a great idea to wash salmon before cooking it. “Even if you rinse it with cold water, it doesn’t really get rid of the bacteria and might even spread it around, which could lead to food poisoning,” adds Rao.

<p>Simply Recipes / Getty Images</p>

Simply Recipes / Getty Images

Mixed Advice About Rinsing Salmon Before You Cook It

The advice on whether to rinse salmon before cooking it is mixed, including among seafood experts. For example, the Alaskan Salmon Company says it’s important to clean salmon before cooking to get rid of any sand or dirt, which makes it cleaner for seasoning and marinating.

It points out that this can get rid of slime, but it doesn’t get rid of bacteria. Rao says the only way to kill bacteria is by cooking the salmon properly.

Rinsing seafood can have an impact on quality and taste. “If you wash salmon, you might wash away some of the natural oils and flavors that make it taste really good and keep it juicy,” Rao says. “So, washing could change how the salmon tastes and feels when you eat it. Not washing the salmon could help keep all those yummy flavors and textures.”

If you use soap or detergent when you clean your salmon, the soap or detergent could get into the salmon and alter its taste, even making it unsafe to eat.

Tips for Rinsing Salmon Before You Cook It

Whether it’s how you were raised or just a personal preference, no one will judge you if you want to rinse your salmon anyway.

“If you decide to wash the salmon, do it gently with clean water (no detergent!) to avoid spreading bacteria,” Rao says. “Once you’re done washing, pat the salmon dry with a paper towel. And don’t forget to clean and sanitize your sink and any tools you use right away.”

Rao also suggests considering lemon juice instead of water. He says, “It’s a handy trick that not only cleans the salmon but also gets rid of any fishy smells and can even kill some harmful bacteria.”

Read the original article on Simply Recipes.