How To Cook Salmon Head & Bones

You don’t ever see salmon heads and bones at typical American markets. But if you ever visit ethnic markets, you’ll most likely find parts of fish that you didn’t even realize can be cooked!  In fact the collars of fish like tuna and sea bass are high-priced menu items that you’ll find in fancy restaurants downtown.

Just like land animals, the bones of fish make for delicious stock and broth and are packed with flavor. At Tensuke Market, you’ll often find salmon heads & bones. We want to share with you some tips on how to cook these at home.

Heads, Collars, Bellies and Bones via

These parts are quite possibly the best cuts on a salmon, as they are fattier and have a more interesting texture and flavor than straight-up fillets. The most surprising dish to many may be my salmon head soup —  this is actually a very clean-tasting lovely soup.

Salmon bones at Tensuke Market

Also grill or roast the bones of salmon and pick off the meat for salmon salad or salmon cakes.  Use a spoon to remove all the meat from the carcass, chop it roughly and use it for salmon burgers or patties.

Salmon bellies and collars
Photo by Hank Shaw

That leaves the collars and bellies. There simply aren’t any better parts of a salmon than these, and there simply isn’t any better way to prepare them than grilling or smoking. Why?

  • You have skin, which is crispy, yet slightly gelatinous from the subcutaneous fat.
  • You have the meat itself, which is clean and umami-liciously decadent.
  • You have ALL THAT FAT. Salmon, like the rest of us, store most of their fat in their bellies. And this, friends, is a Mother Lode of those omega-3 fatty acids people are all talking about. I actually got a full-on glob of salmon fat in one bite, which, if you can imagine it, was both alarming and tasty. No need to take fish oil pills after this meal.
  • You also have collagen from the cartilage around the fins and bones. This partially melts under the heat of the grill and lubricates everything. I feel that my lips are more supple these days…
  • Finally, there are the fins. The crispy ends of the fins, dipped in whatever sauce you are serving, are nutty little crunchy tidbits that contrast so well with the luxuriant fat, collagen and meat that you’d think Nature herself had created it just for our pleasure. And maybe she did.

Recipe Ideas:

Check out our Pinterest Salmon Head & Bones Recipes board.

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3 S. Arlington Heights Rd.
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007
(847) 806-1200