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Minnesota Musing: Fish Fillets - It Looks Pretty Easy

Updated on January 27, 2018
fillets of fresh water fish
fillets of fresh water fish

Cleaning the Fish

The video that I found is a very good video. It truly explains how to fillet a fish. After watching the video, I would feel completely comfortable filleting my first fish.

I live in Southern Minnesota, and this time of year the lakes are frozen over and we have a special, insulated building we place on a lake with holes in the floor and benches on the walls.

I should say that my hubby fishes. I haven't had the bravado to venture to the fish house with him, since I'm afraid of the ice. The fear is just as unreasonable as being afraid of heights.

If I don't think about it much, I can go out there, but, if I'm left to my own devices and am driving my own vehicle to the house, I'm afraid that my venturing turns sour at the access.

End Result

Filleting the fish is not exactly completely necessary, but it does make it better for eating the fish minus the fish bones.

When I was a child, about 10 years old, the school that I attended was on Lake Superior and occasionally we were treated to baked herring fillets. The skin was left on the fish and they were coated with some baking mix and as I recall, I was one of the only kids that truly fell in love with them. The coating puffed up around the fillet and the flavor was truly scrumptious.

Options for Fish

We like to pickle fish, which does not require removing the bones. Why? The salt and vinegar solution that you pour over the fish chemically changes the bones to a softened version and you are able to eat the bones without discomfort.

Lately, we have taken a liking to boiling our fillets in salted, sugared water. The fish fillets take a 10 minute bath in boiling water and the result is a recipe that we call Poor Man's Lobster. The fish isn't as firm or chewy as lobster, but the flavor is similar.

We have also grilled our fish. You place your fillet on foil and cover the fish with slices of onion, grated black pepper and brown sugar. You cook it in the grill on a high heat until the fish meat flakes with a fork. Generally it takes about 20 minutes. Smoking the fish is similar, except you soak your fish in a salted brine for a day and then, use a lower heat.

Our favorite fish is deep fried in a deep fryer with just a coating of Fry Magic. We have also coated our fish with a wet coating. We used to use a beer and flour mix, but recently have had a wine and flour mix.

In the past, we have mixed our own version of Fry Magic. It was always good, and included flour, cornmeal, seasoned salt, pepper and some poultry seasoning.

Sharp Knife and Comfortable Height Work Surface

It is very important to have a sharp knife, a way to sharpen a dull knife and a work surface that is a comfortable height for cleaning fish. A dull knife is a bad idea, and the Accusharp knife sharpener is an excellent way to add a sharp edge to a dull knife.

It is nice to have a utility sink where you can place a supported cleaning board across and wash the fish scales and fish blood off so your work space doesn't become an area offensive to the nose.

work surface at a proper height
work surface at a proper height
special pointed knife
special pointed knife
knife sharpener
knife sharpener
knife blade goes across sharpeners
knife blade goes across sharpeners
a couple pulls across blade and your knife is good to cut again
a couple pulls across blade and your knife is good to cut again
If you prefer to scale the fish
If you prefer to scale the fish
Does it seem like the fish wants to disagree?
Does it seem like the fish wants to disagree?
fillets are removed from side of fish, both sides
fillets are removed from side of fish, both sides
Crappie skin
Crappie skin
Sunfish skin
Sunfish skin


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    • firstcookbooklady profile imageAUTHOR

      Char Milbrett 

      9 months ago from Minnesota

      I did take some photos of the tools needed, the work space we use by the double sink, and will add them to my page. Thanks for your comment, Chitrangada Sharan!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      9 months ago from New Delhi, India

      Nice hub and thanks for explaining the procedure.

      Fillet-o-fish is one of my favourites. I don’t mind the fish bones, but removing bones makes it easier to eat, especially for children and the elderly.

      Thanks for sharing the video!


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