I taught Andrew and Nick how to clean a trout a few weeks back, and I wish we had taken photos to share with you here (next time). But after spearing some fish at the ocean with Alex, Justin, and Chris I decided to do a post on how to efficiently fillet a fish.
This method works great for many large fish (if it’s smaller, just gut it, scale it and cook it whole). I fillet rockfish, lingcod, and freshwater species like catfish and bass.
Step 1- Place the fish on a board or flat rock and make and incision with a sharp blade right down to the backbone at an angle (as shown) in the soft tissue just behind the head and hard gill plate.
Step 2- Angle the blade now parallel to the spine and saw through the rib bones found in the first 1/3 of the fish all the while keeping your blade slightly bumping the spine so you retain the most meat possible in the fillet. NOTE- stop cutting near the tail but before you cut through the skin (keep the fillet connected to the fish).
Step 3- Flip the fillet, still attached to the skin, and slice parallel to the skin all along the fillet effectively removing skin from meat. By keeping the skin attached to the carcass it gives you a good grip and makes the process far quicker.
Step 4- use your index finger to identify where the rib bones are located along the lateral line of the fillet. You will feel them poking out where you cut them free from the carcass. Then make an incision through the fillet alone the upper side of the fillet’s lateral line, above the ribs (as shown).
Step 5- Make a second incision perpendicular to the length of the fillet effectively severing the belly meat from the rest of the fillet.
Step 6- Give your boneless fillet a rinse and cut it into one inch cubes. Mix up a simple batter of flour, salt, paprika, and beer. Dip the cubes in the batter, fry them until golden brown, and get ready for the best fish tacos around!
I hope that helps.
Keep the old ways alive!