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How to Easily Fillet a Fish

Updated on November 11, 2012

If you are not a fisherman, you might think there is no reason to know how to fillet your own fish. But, if you would like to get the best value, buying whole fish is is the best way. Here are some tips to help you prepare your fish for cooking.

You will need a few tools before you get started. A good chef's knife is perfect to cut off the head and tail of your fish. You will also need a sharp fillet knife. And, if you do not want your hands to smell like the fish, you will need some latex gloves.

The fish you purchase should have firm flesh. It should spring back when you press it. The eyes of the fish should be shiny and clear. There should be no odor of fish, just of the ocean. Ask the fishmonger to scale and gut the fish after you make your purchase.

The first step is to remove the head. Place your chef's knife behind the pectoral fin. Then make a diagonal cut downward through the bone. Repeat this on the opposite side. The head should now be separated from the body of the fish and you can discard it.

Next you want to remove the tail. Place your chef's knife where the tail fin joins the body. Then make a straight cut down through the flesh and bone. The tail should then be discarded, as well.

Now you are ready to cut the fillet. Starting at the head, fun a fillet knife along the backbone. This should be done in a smooth motion. It may take more than one cut. Cut around the rib cage. This will separate the fillet.

The thin belly portion of the fillet should be cut away. It will cook quicker than the rest of the fillet and is, also, higher in fat. You can use this for making stock for stews and soups.

Next, the skin should be removed. Place the fillet with the skin side down. Using the chef's knife, begin at the tail end between the skin and the flesh. The knife should be moved slowly along the fillet. Be sure to angle the blade of your fillet knife slightly downward. Grip the skin as you cut.

Now you have a wonderful piece of fish that is boneless and skinless. This procedure works best for any kind of round fish. And, you will save money on your grocery bill, as well.


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