One of the gratifying parts of catching your fish is preparing it, for some of us that is. There are those who may rather release their catch than have to prepare it, or give the task to a spouse or someone else. I was in the class of anglers who wanted no part of cleaning the fish I caught but that quickly changed once I learned how to fillet a fish. Now the task of filleting a fish is one I look forward to with enthusiasm. To fillet a fish is to separate the flesh of the fish from the bones ensuring that all the bones are removed.
Tools you will need
1) A filleting knife is an essential part of your equipment. A good quality filleting knife can make quick work of filleting fish and can also be used for other household tasks. Always ensure that your knife is kept sharp for optimum performance.
2) A regular household knife for cleaning the scales off the fish(optional)
3) A pair of scissors for clipping the fins
4) A clean solid surface to work on
5) An apron and lots of paper towels
Scale the fish. Place the fish on a cutting board. Using a sharp kitchen knife remove all the scales rom the fish
Trim the fins. With a sharp scissors remove all fins from the fish, from the head, sides, belly and back
Gut the fish. With the fish on its side use the tip of the knife to pierce stomach of the fish. Starting from the tail of the fish, run the knife to the head opening the stomach.
Clean the fish by removing the stomach contents leaving only the flesh and bones. Wash the fish in cold water. Clean the cutting board and return the fish to the board
Remove the head (optionnal). Place the knife just below the gills and make a sharp cut through to remove the head.
Making the cut. With the tail facing you run the knife from the top of the spine down the tail, slicing gently. As you do so you will be moving the knife blade between spine and the flesh. Do so until the fillet (flesh) separates from the spine.
The Fillet. As you work the knife in a gradual downward motion between the rib bones and the flesh, following the shape of the fish, you would have separated the flesh from the rib bones on one side of the fish. Turn the fish over and repeat the process for the other side of the fish. You will need to be more cautious when removing the second fillet
If it is your first time filleting fish, you should practice on a smaller fish first. As the larger fish would be more challenging. Keep in mind that the goal is to remove the flesh from the bones. Skillful and accurate use of the knife is essential to this process. After you have removed the fillet check for bones remaining in the fillet and remove by pulling them out by hand. You are now ready to prepare your fish fillets.
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