Where I live (California, USA), when I buy salmon fillets from the (American style) supermarket, they have scales on. Even though it is not too difficult, I don't enjoy removing the scales at home, partly because I don't like to handle the fish too much and get my hands all fishy smelling. Once I asked the butcher man if he could get the scales off for me, and he looked fishy at me and said no.

However, I notice in the Chinese markets (I think 3 different ones) they just sell the salmon already scaled. You don't even need to ask them specially. So now I just go to the Chinese market for salmon.

So my question is: Is this typical (other locations too)? And if so, why? Why the difference between Chinese and American style supermarkets regarding scales on salmon? FYI, the only fish I ever buy is salmon, so I do not know if this applies to other types of fish or not.

  • 1
    I've never had scales on my salmon (in South Carolina, Massachusetts, Ohio, Indiana) -- skin yes, scales no.
    – Erica
    May 16, 2018 at 12:19
  • 1
    I haven't seen such a thing in California. You say "(the American style) supermarket" like there is only one near you. Did you check any others?
    – user3169
    May 17, 2018 at 6:09
  • @user3169 Yes, I have been to two, each one a member of a different supermarket chain. Today the lady behind the counter (Lucky supermarket) pretended at first not to know how to take the scales off the fish. When I explained how it was not hard, just messy, she said, "They won't let me do that."
    – Lorel C.
    Jun 3, 2018 at 21:41
  • I would ask the store manager for an explanation (at the other store too). Also, are these stores in an urban area with a large Asian population?
    – user3169
    Jun 3, 2018 at 23:54
  • I'm on the central California coast and salmon skin typically has scales when I buy it. So nice when they've been removed. I mean, who doesn't like crispy slated salmon skin?
    – beausmith
    Aug 2, 2022 at 21:42

2 Answers 2


Maybe you have a bad fishmonger ? they do a bad job by not removing the scales?

Maybe the expect the regular clients not eating the skin?

Can't talk about California, but here in Montréal, fish sold in supermarkets are scaled, especially if the fish is sold in portions.

It is harder to remove scales in filleted portions.


Is this typical (other locations too)?

Reporting for Germany here:

  • If you go to a Supermarket, you usually get your fish gutted and scaled.
  • If you go to a wholesaler or directly to the fisher, you often get it only whole fish "natural", but it may vary.
  • If you go to a specialized fishmonger, you get your fish prepared any way you want.
  • Same in Spain, at least in any place I know.
    – roetnig
    May 17, 2018 at 9:42

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