Do I need to scale trout before cooking?
Trout have tiny and soft scales which do not need to be removed before cooking. Many people barely notice them while eating cooked trout. On trout larger than 18″ it can be worthwhile to give them a quick scraping because the scales can be a bit larger.
According to a recent poll on an online trout fishing group, almost two-thirds of trout anglers do not scale their trout before cooking.
As trout grow larger and start to mature. The scales do become more noticeable. It is often recommended to scale trout that are larger than 18 inches which is just under 4lb. Even then, some people choose not to bother.
Trout scales are actually so fine, which means people actually ask if trout have scales. They feel somewhat smooth, almost slimy to the touch. The scales are fine because it makes them more streamlined and better adapted to life in fast flowing water.
These fine scales might actually be the reason why released trout often suffer from fungal infection and damage caused by rough handling.
How about scales on Steelhead, Salmon and large Char?
It is still generally okay to eat the skin without removing the scales. Even large Salmonoids such as Lake Trout or Arctic Char have relatively fine scales. I do not normally keep such fish, but If I were to I would give a slight scrapping with a knife just to remove the largest of the scales.
Can I eat trout skin without first removing the scales?
Fried trout skin is somewhat of a delicacy, this is not a recipe blog but generally, all it requires is a light seasoning of salt which causes it to crisp up nicely. Leaving the scales on is fine, and most people will not even notice they are eating them.
Is it safe to eat fish scales?
Yes, fish scales are safe to eat, although large scales might be a bit crunchy. It is never advisable to eat scales raw.