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In The Kitchen › How To Fillet A Fish

Here are a series of 15 pictures describing the simple techniques of filleting reasonable sized fish like coral trout, barramundi, mangrove jack, salmon etc. This method can be adapted to suit most fish species with scaled skin, and the end result will give you beautiful clean fillets, little bones and virtually no wastage.

1. What is required is a simple cutting board or flat surface, a thin flexible blade for cutting along the backbone, and a broad flat blade for removing the hard skin.

2. Holding the fish flat on the cutting board, and while using the thin knife, pierce the skin behind the front dorsal fin.

3. Slice the knife diagonally across the fish, cutting to, but not through, the backbone.

Step 1Step 2Step 3

4. Hold the fish by the head and run the blade down the backbone towards the tail with a sawing motion. Do not try to cut too much of the fillet off the backbone at this stage, this will come later.

5. When near the tail region, hold the knife flat against the backbone and push the point right through the side of the fillet. With the knife protruding out the other side, cut right through the remaining fillet towards the tail.

6 & 7 Peel the fillet back with one hand while cutting the fillet away from the backbone using small slicing motions. Don't try to cut too much away in one stroke. It is better to use many small cuts, guiding the knife along any bony structures and removing all that beautiful flesh.

Step 4Step 5Step 6

8. The most difficult task is to remove the fillet from the rib cage area. A very sharp knife is essential here. Using small strokes again, just feel your way around the bones, eventually completely removing one side of the flesh.

9. Turn the fish over making sure to hold the fish fairly flat on the cutting surface, and repeat the procedure to remove the other fillet. Some fisherman will keep the first fillet loosely attached to the backbone to improve the "shape" of the fish and making it easier to work for removing the second fillet.

Step 7Step 8Step 9

10. The fish "wings" are regarded by some culinary experts as the second best eating part of any fish, second only to the meat found at the back of the head. Break or cut them off whole and save them for the BBQ.

11. And there you have it, two superb fillets, the wings and the carcass.

12. Next comes the removal of the skin, note that the fish has not been scaled and this is not necessary.Hold the tough skin in one hand and using the flat bladed knife, slice a small portion of the flesh away from the skin.

Step 10Step 11Step 12

13. Cut a "finger hole" into the skin.

14. Hold the skin by the finger hole, and using the broad bladed knife, gently remove the skin from the remaining fillet. It is important to hold the knife at the correct angle and to pull on the skin, not push or cut with the knife. Holding the blade too flat will result in a jagged cutting action and probably leave some skin on, hold it too upright and you will slice through the skin and make it difficult to re-start the procedure. There is no substitute for practice, so go catch a few and give it some trial and error until you work the right angle to suite your blade.

15. The completed job.

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