How to Fillet a Fish

“Learn how to fillet a fish the Travel Australia Bible style.”

Filleting a fish requires some practice to master the technique and end up with a quality table fillet. Follow these steps on your catches and you’ll be an expert in no time. The aim of this method is to produce fillets with as little wastage and bones as possible. The more flesh the better. Hacking away at the fish is a big NO. You want a nice clean cut and intact fillet.

Tools

You’ll need a large cutting board, carving knife, filleting knife, protective filleting glove and a steel knife sharpener.

How to Fillet a Fish - Filleting Technique

Note most fishermen remove the skin from the fillets so there is no need to scale the fish prior to filleting.

Lie the fish flat on the cutting board and make the initial incision with the thin blade (filleting knife) behind the front pectoral fin. Slice diagonally across the fish towards the head and cut to (not into) the backbone.

Next run the blade along the top of the backbone of the fish in a gentle sawing motion from head to tail, slicing into the flesh carefully, however not penetrating the knife all the way through the fish at this stage, as you will be peeling the fillet back later and finishing the job through to the other side.

When you reach parallel to the rear fin, pierce the knife out the other side of the fish and continue sawing down to the tail and the end of the fillet.

Peel the fillet back across to the fish’s belly and continue cutting carefully back along the backbone, towards the head, the knife protruding and saving as much flesh as possible. Make sure your thin blade is sharp and continue with a short slicing motion until the fillet comes away from the fish.

Once the fillet is removed, carefully cut out the rib bones and any other bones running along the blood line, trying to leave as much flesh intact as possible on your fillet.

Once you’ve removed the first fillet, repeat the process on the other side of the fish. Filleting completed.

If you like to keep the wings, cut or break them off whole. You will also need to remove the scales. The wings are delicious to pick at after cooking.

Skinning Technique

Now it’s time to skin the fillets.

Starting at the tail, hold the tail-end of the fillet and gently cut a small area of flesh away from the skin. Get a better grip on the exposed skin or even cut a hole into which you can insert your finger for gripping and continue to carefully pull on the skin, with your blade at an angle giving slight movements to and from.

The flesh should come away from the skin. Note it is a procedure in need of practice so give it your best shot and keep on practicing. You’ll get the feel for your blade, angle and motion eventually.

Storage

Depending on the size of your fish fillets, cut them into table size fillets and store in snap-lock bags and freeze as soon as possible if you aren’t eating them that day.

Note some anglers prefer to bleed, scale and gut their fish prior to filleting. This is not essential.

We hope this helps you learn how to fillet a fish confidently and eventually with expertise. Happy fishing, filleting and eating!

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