Sushi & Sake Series: How to Prepare Salmon Sushi

“That’s a big fish!” In the 2nd part of our Sushi & Sake series, we dove into filleting a king salmon with Stacey Ingram from Indah Sushi in Whitefish, Montana.


What's a King Salmon?

Did you know that king salmon is the largest species of wild North Pacific salmon? These majestic fish roam the rivers of Western North America, stretching from Northern California to Alaska, all the way over to Japan and the Arctic Sea. This well-traveled fish has also been introduced into other areas of the world. 

There are only 2 places in the world where you can get king salmon that is high enough in grade to cut it sashimi style. New Zealand is one of those places where Stacey gets her king salmon from! 

Specifically, king salmon has a rich fatty consistency, that has a full fresh fish flavor with just a bit of sweetness. The fat on king salmon can be so creamy that sushi-grade salmon belly is on par with sushi-grade tuna belly, which is considered a delicacy. Perfect for pairing with a crisp white wine or a robust red. 


How to Fillet King Salmon

We’ll break down the steps below, but our IGTV with Stacey doing her thing is super information and areal treat! Be sure to check it out with this link or right below!


Fileting Steps

We’ve also listed the steps to preparing salmon sake sushi right here for your reference:

  1. Take the head of the salmon off first. The head can be used for Fish Head soup, which is delicious.
  2. Open up the fish by cutting the fish long ways down the middle so you have 2 big slices.
  3. Debone the fish and take the spine out.
  4. Take the bottom fin off. This fin is known as the collar. The collar has super-rich meat right behind where the gills of the fish are and you can fry this piece for something crispy and delicious.
  5. Take the additional belly fin off, trying to keep it as intact as possible as this is the premium part of any fish.
    1. The blood rushes to the stomach which they utilize while swimming and contributes to the fatty goodness of this part of the meat.
  6. Take all the pin bones out from the end of the fish so they’re not served within the sushi.
  7. Next, cut the filets into serving pieces, cutting away from the skin.
  8. Most filet cuts are 3 fingers in width.
  9. The leftover skin can be put in the fryer for hand rolls.
  10. The perfect sashimi and nigiri size, are bite-sized which creates a perfect balance.
  11. The bloodline also gets removed from the salmon.


What Is Sashimi vs. Nigiri?

While sashimi and nigiri both tantalize the taste buds with their seafood goodness they each bring their own unique flavors. In plain terms, sashimi is thinly sliced (sometimes cubed) fresh raw fish, such as king salmon, that is served without rice. Nigiri, however, is thinly sliced fresh fish served on top of a ball of sushi rice with or without wasabi sauce.


What Drink Pairs Well With Sushi?

Sake, often described as a fermented rice drink or Japanese rice wine, makes a classic pairing with king salmon sushi. However, if you’re looking for the perfect alternative, our crisp single-serve wines such as the Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé, Red Blend, or Chardonnay, are excellent choices.

Sauvignon Blanc

White wines, especially with sushi, offer a delightful pairing. The Sauvignon Blanc complements king salmon superbly, delivering a citrus zest and lemon-lime notes that enhance the rich, fatty texture of the fish.


You can’t go wrong with the classic Rosé! A common pairing with sushi, the Rosé is a light and fresh wine with subtle hints of raspberry and strawberry. However, its versatility extends beyond sushi, as you can pair it effortlessly with soft, creamy rind cheese or your favorite spicy cuisine.

Red Blend

While less traditional, red wine is a delicious and surprisingly complementary choice for sushi pairings. Crafted from organically grown Bobal and Merlot grapes, this balanced single-serve wine has hints of chocolate and spice blended well together with red fruit aromas and subtle toasted notes.


The Chardonnay is bursting with aromas of pear and apricot, complemented by nuanced hints of nut and vanilla, culminating into a subtle buttery palate. This wonderfully rich wine makes an excellent companion to fresh sushi or a refreshing salad. 

You can read more about how these delicious wines pair with sushi in our Sushi and Wine Pairing guide.   


Other Facts About King Salmon

  • Fish is graded based on the age and consistency of the meat.
  • The grading generally takes place right at the boat level.
  • The restaurant level will pay for the fish based on a per pound basis depending on the grade.
  • A consumer is charged for sushi pieces dependent on where the meat is coming from off the fish.
  • Skin on both sides is your fish is the most premium cut of king salmon and will be your most expensive.
  • All this rich delicious salmon sushi talk is making us want a crisp glass of white!

We hope you had fun learning about how your delicious salmon sushi is prepared!

Shop all of our single-serve wines made with organic grapes on our online wine shop.