What can I do with salmon carcass or head?

The fish people gave a salmon carcass to me for free. No head. Looks like it may be king salmon. Has a fair bit of meat in it.

I was originally thinking about a soup, but I wasn’t sure what kind of soup salmon bones will make, because I normally associate fish soup with white fishes. Is the taste going to be too strong?

Any other ideas?

Separately, I had my choice of either the salmon head and the carcass and I chose the carcass. But let’s say I chose the head, same question- what can I do with it?


I can only think of making fish stock or soup. Use the stock for risotto kinds of dishes.

The fishmongers here sell both the heads and carcasses. I see Asian customers buy them.

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If you do decide to make fish stock out of it. Always remove the gills.

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Thanks for the advice, will double check. I have been gathering a big bag of fish heads of all types of fish in the freezer for a while. I have been thinking of doing a soup.

You can be inspired by the French soup bouillabaisse, or some similar (of course you don’t have the same fish). It is one of my favourite fish soup. Maybe you will need to add more fish, the bones are not enough to make the soup tasty enough, it is a full meal on its own.

I have made sauce with shrimps heads, delicious! I guess fish carcass will give excellent result.

I am not an expert in Malaysian cooking, they make good use of fish heads cooked in curry. More about it here.

BBQ it. You can Season it with teriyaki or just course salt.

For the carcass, salmon chowder with a bit of smoked bacon.

For the head, I’d just roast it and pick at it.


I make stock with salmon carcasses and heads. Fish stock is different from that made from meats. It doesn’t benefit from long simmering, but does ok with reduction after you remove the bones. For one carcass including the head, I fill the stock pot maybe halfway up and simmer on low heat for about 20-30 minutes, then I strain it in a collander to remove the bones, pressing to get all of the liquid out of the head/bones. Simmer to reduce until the flavor is strong enough. This makes about four quarts of stock, which I freeze up in individual quart containers and use it for fish soup, risotto, or my favorite concoction:

1 lb cubed fish steaks. Fish stores often offer a great deal on fish trim at a low price.
Onion, garlic, and whatever you like, chopped finely (“mirepoix”)
1 jar of broad beans, preferably Italian “gigantes”/butter beans (or even better, fresh broad beans, like “cranberry” beans).
1 quart fish stock.
Salt, pepper, herbs to taste

Saute the mirepoix in olive oil. Add the beans and simmer until they’re tender. Add the fish and simmer briefly until it’s just cooked. Season and serve forth.
(User seamunky suggests some bacon; you can fry it before adding the mirepoix)

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Dig a hole in the yard. Put the carcass or the head in the hole. Plant a rose bush on top.


Crab bait

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I just made this seafood sinigang recipe from the splendid table podcast after listening to Francis Lam and chef on the Splendid table podcast making it and the sounds of them enjoying it got to me. It was very good.


If you like seafood sinigang, you can easily make the seafood sinigang using Mama Sita’s or Knorr’s tamarind soup mix which is essentially sinigang mix. You can buy the mix at the Asian store for $.75-$1. 00 . They often go on sale for .50 cents at which time,I usually pick up 10 if not 20 pouches to stock in the pantry. I follow instruction and usually add tomatoes, extra cider vinegar and hot pepper as we like it spicy, usually add , garlic, ginger and spring onion as well. For the seafood, tilapia fillet together with shrimp are often our choice. Prior to serving, I add a bunch of Ong Chay ( water spinach ) but if not available , spinach will do. During the summer till Fall, when we catch rockfish from our dock, I use the fish head and carcass after my son fillet the fish to make stock for paella. This fish stock also works great but even when I do not have stock, the mix is really good by itself. I know a lot of filipinos who now just use the mix.


Thanks for the ideas!

I totally forgot about bouillabaisse or our local equivalent- cioppino…

Her in NYC they actually sell the carcass for about 99 cents per pound. I will by about 3 or 4 pounds, take a grapefruit teaspoon and scrape off all of the meat. I end up with about a pound and half of salmon. I then treat it like a ceviche with lime and orange juice, a few drops of sesame oil and a couple of red pepper flakes. I serve it with toasted rounds of baguette and top it off with some chopped red onion. Unfortunately in my house it is a first course for the five of us, and I never seem to make enough for leftovers for me!


I am planning to make what the fishermen used to do, cook the fish for perhaps a minute, scrape off all the meat for later, then simmer the carcass for half an hour (and now I realize one is too little), then add aromatics, tomatoes, shrimp, cod, scallops, saffron (all are stuff I have readily at home) and herbs. And maybe a tiny bit of potatoes. A mix between cioppino and bouillabaisse, I guess.


Serious eats created this recipe for salmon rillettes specifically because they had a number of salmon heads. You could scale down the recipe to suit the amount of meat you end up with

I just cooked this fish head soup tonight, more here:

What's for Dinner #30 - The Hearts & Flowers Edition - Feb '18:

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I made the bouillabaise-cioppino hybrid soup. I didn’t have scallop on hand- just the carcass, shrimps and cod fillet. It tasted pretty good. I think I could use more than a carcass. Or I added too much water.

I put the cod fillet in at the end. But if I am to make the soup again, I will saute the cod elsewhere and add to the soup when the soup is already in a bowl. Cooking the cod in the soup make the cod really bland, and eventually overcooked in the hot soup.

I have tried using the fillets of fresh red mullet and mackerel, simmered for 5-7 minutes in the soup before serving instantly. Mackerel has a stronger character turned out more suitable than mullet. On the whole, the soup was very good and worth the trouble. I wanted to add mussels, but due to the snow transport problem, there was nothing in the shop.

Using 20+ heads, I have made 6 big bowls of soup, pretty economic! Now I need to wait several months to collect enough heads for my next soup.

Hi sck,

We buy and cook fisheads (salmon, ling cod, big-head carp, sturgeon) on occasion. Steamed “Chinese style”, braised with soy and tofu, in soup or baked in oven.

Some ideas on prep from recent travels.

Shinjuku, Japan. The head, bones, skin and vegetables for a nabe (hot pot) to finish a fugu dinner set.

Tsukiji, Japan. Grilled tuna cheeks on rice from a stand on fringe of market. Stand up dining, truly delicious!

Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Milkfish head with ginger soup. Finally learned to enjoy eating ginger.

Taipei, Taiwan. Fishead in hot pot with lions head meatballs, tofu and cellaphane noodles.

Hong Kong. Simply steamed with ginger, scallion, garlic. Finished with soy sauce.

Singapore. Tied with Hainan chicken for the national dish. Curry fishead. A fusion of Indian flavors and Chinese fishead love.

Osaka, Japan. Baked fishead. Fierce countenance, worthwhile to pick every succulent morsel.

Osaka. Live aji fresh out of the tank. Sashimi. Frame an head deep fried to complement our sake.

Hong Kong. Head jook. We’ve done same at home with salmon head. Also sturgeon head. Love crunching thru the cartilage, and ooh, all that collagen!!

Bankok, Thailand. Whole fish, head on. Herbs, spices and peppers were spot on. Will try same at home.