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Preparation and filleting

Preparation and filleting



Simple 4 Steps: How to Fillet a Every fish

1.Put the fish on its side. Make several cuts, parallel to the fish, just above the backbone.

2.Once halfway turn knife 90 and cut to the tail, making sure the knife is flat.

3.Turn the fish over. Start from the tail, cut along to about halfway.

4.Turn sharp knife so it is parallel to the fish and make a few cuts so that they go above the backbone.

Easy peasy! Two fillets ready to be grilled, panfried or poached. As required Divide each fillet into individual fishportions

Watch Technique from the BBC

By Mitch Tonks

Skills & Techniques - How to fillet a round fish like sea bass, mackerel etc

How to fillet fish like the pros

"Filleting Trout and Salmon"
By Jeff Helsdon

published: Ontario OUT OF DOORS / FEBRUARY 2005
Drawing of rainbow trout skeletons by Wally Edwards. Rainbow trout painting by Cory Trepanier.


Preparing mackerel

published in Olive Magazine May-2011

How to fillet a Mackerel

Filleting Video

Trout Filleting

How to fillet Trout

How to Clean Filet Butterfly a Trout

Salmon Filleting

Quickly Fillet a Salmon

Salmon deep processing

Work skinning machine for salmon. Sliced salmon fillet with slices of fillet shape retention. Machines for cleaning salmon carcasses from scales. Production of Korea.

Get a more detailed view of Fish Preparation:

include how to Bloodletting and cleaning, Scaling, Filleting and skinning smoke and "How to preserve" tips

The fish is yours

See full text below, or click on images to view actual

The moment your fish is landed, and the excitement dies, it passes on to a rather more prosaic, earth-bound level. It has now become food, your food, and it is up to you to see that it is in the best possible condition when it sooner or later reaches the pot or part.

It will never be as fresh as this again.

We know that fish is highly perishable. After only a short while, decomposition sets in, and within a few hours, the fish that took so much time, thought and cunning to catch may be spoilt. We need not elaborate too much on this. Briefly, it's the self-destructive properties of the fish gastric juices and acids, and bacilli - that do the damage, but properly treated, they can be pretty effectively checked. But there's no time to lose!


The blood should be let immediately. Put your knife in behind the gills, with the edge towards the neck, and press down there towards the heart. With larger fish, one can let the blood more effectively by making a second incision underneath the tail, or by cutting the tail off.


The old cookery-book maxim "Fish should be cleaned as soon as you get it in the house", hardly applies to us, but clean your fish all the same - the sooner the better. We should at the very least gut it right away, by cutting over its' throat, slitting open its' belly and removing the entrails. We can set aside the liver, milt and roe. Any further cleaning that needs to be done, we can see to during a lull in the fishing, or when the fishing is over. We can then remove the gills, if the head is to stay on, or else cut off the head. The line of blood along the backbone, the kidneys of the fish, is carefully brushed off, or scraped off with a teaspoon. A teaspoon does hot take up much space in the fishing-bag, and it can prove to be a Godsend. The dark skin in the bellies of salt-water fish should be removed.

Cleaning fish whole.

That is, cleaning the fish without slicing open its' belly. Make an incision so that the rectum stands free, cut the gills loose and pull them and the entrails out together. This method is particularly recommended for when one wants to stuff fish with spices, parsley, dill, etc., and fry or boil it whole. Fish that is to be cooked in slices should also be cleaned whole, so as to give slices that do not split in the belly.


The easiest and best time to scale your fish is before you clean it, but the opportunity doesn't always arise, so you may have to wait until it's back in the kitchen. Scrape from the tail towards the head. Fish with particularly firm scales should be scraped under water, to prevent the scales from flying about. Oily or mucous fish should be scraped towards the tail, and you can rub some salt into the

skin if you have any difficulty in getting the mucus off.


. I can remember the hefty fishwives at Copen- hagen's Nyhavn fishmarket lifting flounders and eels from their tanks and killing and skinning them before customers had even got as far as finding the change to pay. Armed with a sharp knife and a moist rag, they killed the fish, cut the skin up by the head, took a firm hold of the head and the skin with the rag, then pulled away - and there was the fish, naked.

I used to spend a lot of time down by the fishmarket, admiring the heavily-dressed, red-nosed specialists and trying to pick up their technique. But it all happened too quickly to be of much use. We amateurs can afford to take our time, though the method is the same: We cut the skin by the head, and we pull away towards the tail, taking it nice and easy.

Flatfish, like flounder, angler-fish and other "two-sided" fish, call for a different method. One cuts round the fish behind the fins and pulls the skin off on either side, using a pair of pliers or rolling the skin around a knife, away from the tail and towards the head. Eels: Cut round the head and pull the skin off like a sock. Eels that are to be smoked should not be skinned.

KA-BAR Knifes - LEGEND USMC and Trout Knifes


If present trends are anything to go by, the housewife of the future will come across fish mainly as fillets, either white or ready fried in egg and breadcrumbs, for pan or pot or dish. Or deep frozen. Now, the purpose of this book is not to criticize the deep-freezing industry, for it has been invaluable in assuring us of ever more varieties of first-class fish, however far inland we may happen to live. The supermarket is still the best fishing-ground for us all. Those of us who get our fish whole naturally feel privileged, but we still need to know how to fillet, for fillets can be prepared in so many ways, for plain frying or boiling, or for use in dishes like minced fish, etc. Take the fish by its' head, having sliced it open along the belly, and lay it on a flat surface. Make an incision by the neck and cut along the backbone towards the tail. You then have a fillet with skin on. Place the fillet, skin down, and press your knife against the inside of the skin and cut the fillet loose from tail to head. You now have a fillet that can be brushed clean of small bones. Turn the fish over and repeat the process.

Fish Preservation


- cold and dry. Dry the fish well, both on the outside and inside the belly, and keep it in an airy, cool place - the colder the better - where the flies can't get at it. Store your fish side by side, not on top of each other, and do not put them in plastic bags, unless they're heading straight for the deep-freeze. Do not put salt in the belly, as so many people do, for salt draws the moisture out of the fish. Above all, do not put salt on fish that is to be deep frozen.

Deep freezing.

Deep freezing is, of course, the best method of preserving fish. If you are many miles or hours away from home and know of a freezer in the vicinity, it can be as well to flatter and cajole its' owner into letting you use it for a while. On the way home, it is important to wrap your catch up well - if possible, in an insulating wrapper in a portable frostbox. Deep frozen fish can soon become dried out, so one has to pack it carefully in airtight foil or plastic bags. The best method of all is to freeze the fish in a block, either in a plastic bag or in a watertight carton. For us amateur fishermen, freezing has taken the place of most other methods of preservation, like salting, drying etc., but we will nevertheless include two here, from which we can still derive great pleasure: Partial fermenting and smoking.

Smoke fish yourself

Smoking fish means, quite simply, that one lets it hang, slightly salted, in a smokefilled room for a certain time. The method is age-old, and was used mainly as a means of preserving fish. Today, we smoke for the sake of its' flavour, for the fine taste of smoked fish can provide us with a whole new range of delicacies: Smoked salmon, smoked eels, herring, haddock, cod, mackerel and fresh- water herring, to name but a few.

What you can smoke: Pretty well all kinds of fish. Perhaps it is as well not to try with a big salmon, for that is too precious and noble a catch for the amateur - send it to the best professional you know of. But leaving that one aside, there is still plenty to be getting on with: The smaller salmon, the trout, perch, freshwater herring, pike, cod, haddock, mackerel and herring, amongst others. Smaller fish should be smoked round, after hav- ing been slit along the belly and cleaned, with or without their heads. Larger fish should be slit open along their backs, and they should be hung opened up, with their bellies facing each other, or smoked individually.

Smoked Spanish Mackerel Recipe

Take a clean 5 gallon bucket put 2 lbs of brown sugar and 3 cups of course sea salt, 1 bottle of soy sauce, 1 bottle of Worcestershire sauce, 4 bottles of liquid smoke, 4 cups of orange juice and 3 gallons of cold water mix well. Place Mackerel fillets in bucket and let sit for 24 hours. Place bucket in the fridge to keep cool. Then you can put in the oven or on a grill for 30 minutes at 400 degrees, Best way is to combine oak, hickory and orange tree wood in a smoker get to 200 degrees then smoke for 4-5 hours and enjoy !


. All smoking requires salting first, to a greater or lesser extent. For our purposes, where the end- product is to be consumed within a short space of time, the salting will usually be fairly short. We dry salt the fish, by rubbing it over with coarse sea salt, laying it skin down in a container and pouring more salt over it. The fish will then pickle itself. Small fish need about half an hour's salting, fish of about one pound need a few hours and large fish should be left overnight. A fish that has been salted for any length of time should be soaked before smoking.

How To Cut a Fillet

- fish cutting method. When cutting, filleting a fish to remove scales, head, spine, shoulders and large rib bones, fins (along with their bony base) and the insides (including eggs and milk), clear tape and black abdominal blood clots. The skin is removed or left on the fillets.
Cutting fish fillets can be done in the following ways:
1) clean of fish scales, cut back and remove the insides. Then separate the head from the humerus, vertebral bone along with the tail fin and all other fins clean the abdominal cavity of the black film, and blood clots (kidney), washing it with water, and then divide the fish plastovannuyu clean cut in the middle of the abdomen on the two plates - fillet
2) clean of fish scales, cut on evisceration with leaving the head, abdomen and rinse with water, then separate the head, shoulder bones and fins except the tail, and then making an incision on the back along the spine to separate the first one and then the other plate fillet of vertebral bone and the caudal fin
3) Remove the fish scales and to cut, make one side incision around the gill cover to the spine and longitudinal section on the back along the spine to the caudal fin, cut so the plate fillet; Turning fish, similar to separate the second plate fillet; pectoral and pelvic fins cut
4) Remove the scales of a fish, then make cuts on both sides of the dorsal and ventral fins of prigolovka to the caudal fin, and then incise the skin and meat prigolovka parallel operculum and around the tail fin fillet and separate from the vertebral bone.
When shearing fillet ensure that the spine had no more prirezi meat and fillet plates obtained smooth, and free of cuts.
With carefully selected plates fillet cut remaining rib bones and bone base of fins, remove clots and bruises, blood, edge (the edge) to align the plates fillet, fillet the alignment plates thin abdominal part can be cut, with the oceanic horse mackerel remove bugs, the angler - abdominal Often, grenadier and hoki - tail equal to 1/3 of the carcass with the fins to remove worms and larvae in pollock fillet, blue whiting and other fish meat is affected by parasites, in the presence of larval tissues in the abdomen Nybelin fish these areas must be cut tissues.
Fish cut into fillets with skin and without skin.
When cutting into fillets without skin leather office made with caution, avoiding cuts of meat and leaving it on the skin prirezey.
When cutting into fillets without skin prior removal of scales of a fish is not necessarily (scales can be removed with the skin). In grenadier fillets topped with barbed scales and angler necessarily remove the skin.
When cutting into fillets with the skin is allowed: a fillet of cod leave the scales;
mackerel fillets with skin break at disposal sites scutes;
a large fillet of Atlantic mackerel, made by ships of raw fish, leave large rib bones.
When cutting fish fillets by machine can be used complex machines that perform: Filleting line t cutoff head, cutting fish fillets, removing the skin, as well as machines and devices that perform the decapitation, branches of the caudal fin, separation of viscera, bones, film from the abdominal cavity, filleting.
When cutting the fish fillets on a machine is allowed:
sardines and mackerel fillets cut into the skin in the form of twin halves with cut fish on the abdomen without cutting back on the abandonment of the rays of the dorsal fin and the remnants of a black film;
in mackerel fillets with skin leave residues rib bones and bony plates;
in Atlantic mackerel fillets with skin leave residues rib bones
in hoki fillets with skin leave residues black film.
When cutting, filleting fish, intended for industrial processing, in accordance with the technical specifications for specific products are acceptable:
in mackerel fillets not remove rib bones, scales, keep bugs, remove straight cut at least 4-5cm thin prihvostovoy part
a catfish fillet catfish and remove the abdominal portion
a grenadier fillets and hoki do not remove the skin, black film and rib bone
hoki, herring and other fish fillets cut into the double-halves without cutting back on the abandonment of the dorsal fin and the dorsal fin rays, remains of black film and scales. From RP

Filleting Fish DVD- Freshwater: Walleye, Bass, Crappie, Panfish, Trout, Salmon, Pike, Catfish

Author : Paul Powis

filleting expert and Rapala pro-staff shows you in this DVD the best tips and ways to fillet any freshwater fish like a pro, without making a mess and How to Clean the Mess After.


Tips and Hints

Filleting Garfish

Recently I went out with fishing mate Keith Jones off San Remo after garfish. We came back with a nice catch of rather big fish and while Keith started to hose down the boat as he usually does and I attended to filleting the garfish. Yes, I mean filletting them. As I was doing this a number of people gathered around and expressed considerable interest as they had never seen this being done before. What I have worked out is that you take the first fillet off starting with the back of the fish facing away and then take the other fillet off. What I do then is to use an ordinary kitchen fork to take the place of fingers and with a sharp pliable knife just slide it under the rib cage and slip out the bones with virtually no waste at all. Don't worry if you make a mess of the first few because with practice things will improve and you will never have gars like it again apart from boning them out which is another practice which I could go through if anyone wants me to. Filleting gars is much better and quicker than using the old bottle method.And a tip for your next fishing trip, take a rubbish bag with you and collect as much rubbish that you can fit into it. If we all do a little bit, our favourite fishing spots will be preserved. Try to leave the place cleaner than when you arrived.

Use a fork to help fillet and you will never look back

When filleting fish such as whiting try holding the fillet with a fork instead of your fingers to remove the rib cage. You will find that you will make a mess of the first few but when you get the hang of it you will not fillet a fish without a fork, an ordinary table fork will do. You will find that you can use this method to fillet gar fish. There will not be a bone in the fillet and you can feed the fish to babies, that's how confident I am. There will be those out there who will laugh but I am serious and as time goes on you will wonder why you did not think of this yourself.

Avoiding ammonia in gummy sharks

The way a mate and I found to avoid the smell and taste of ammonia in gummies is to do what Andy Mostert from 'Fishtales' Bait and Tackle in Pakenham suggested and that is, remove the head completly, gut and clean the the cavity, then straight in an ice slurrey mix of sea water and ice. It was frozen within about 3 to 4 hours after this, in newspaper just like the old chippie

Tips for better tasting salmon

When you catch a salmon it is important to bleed the fish immediately and if possible place it head first in the sand to get rid of as much blood as you can. The best table fish are up to the 1kg mark and after this they tend to have a slightly earthy flavour but other ways other than the traditional method of cooking can improve the flavour. You might try removing the backbone and rib cage and gut by cutting around them with a sharp knife starting from the top of the fish. If done properly it will be in tact with no bones. The idea then is to fill the cavity with stuffing and then sew the fish up. Wrap in tin foil, place on a rack over water and put it in an oven around 240 degrees for about 35-40 minutes. When cooked all you have to do is remove the foil and cotton. You should have a boneless meal after discarding the tail and there is plenty of tender meat around the head for those interested.

Keep a heavy duty knife as well

When filleting or cleaning different fish, you'll probably have to cut through some fairly heavy bone at some stage. To do this safely and effectively, never use your good filleting knife on bone. They have fairly pliable steel blades and can flex, causing them to slip off the bone and into the person doing the job. It will also blunten the edge requiring more frequent sharpening plus it will needlessly wreck your good blade over time. When cutting through bone use a heavy duty blade with a good sharp edge, and never cut towards yourself. Remember, most serious accidents with knives are caused by blunt knives and poor handling.

Filleting Garfish

A handy tip my mum taught me when filleting garfish was to gut them, remove the head, lay them on their back and run a rolling pin firmly over the garfish, then she would just lift the bones out in one piece. Like anything, this takes a bit of practice, but you end up with a lovely butterfly fillet of garfish, and no bones.

From: Dion Everts

I worked in a fresh fish shop for a number of years and the way we filleted them was by what's called the "butterfly method".
What you do is gut the fish and take its head off. then using a short and very sharp boning knife (a short filleting knife will do), turn the fish belly up, open the abdominal cavity with your non-preferred hand and cut along the fish's backbone and ribs one side at a time, being careful not to cut all the way through. The idea is that removing the backbone and the ribs from the inside, you get one nice large fillet per fish! We didn't worry about the tiny lateral bones because they are usually so small.
With practice, this is an excellent way to get a nice fillet from a gar, but it's a bit tricky the first few times, so don't give up if your first few attempts turn to mush.