Abstract Effects of zinc sulphate (ZnSO4) and zinc chloride (ZnCl2) at various levels (0–80µmol/kg) on the properties of gels from yellow stripe trevally (Selaroides leptolepis) surimi were investigated. Both kamaboko (40/90°C) and modori (60/90°C) gels added with ZnSO4 or ZnCl2 up to 60µmol/kg had the increases in breaking force and deformation (P<0.05), compared with the control. The higher breaking force and deformation were generally found in kamaboko gels added with ZnSO4, compared with ZnCl2 (P<0.05). Whiteness of both kamaboko and modori gels increased with increasing levels of zinc salts (P<0.05). Salt bridge and ionic interactions played a major role in cross-linking of proteins. Kamaboko gel had highly interconnected, denser and finer network with smaller voids when zinc salts, especially ZnSO4 at 60µmol/kg, was incorporated. Therefore, ZnSO4 at an appropriate level could improve gel strength and whiteness of surimi from dark fleshed fish.