How Do You Fillet a Fish

Fish freezes well and is very easy to cook in less time so always keep a fillet bag for last minute dinner. Filleting a Fish means getting the meat of a fish without its bones. It takes a lot of touch and could be troublesome but if you follow some steps and tricks then it’s very easy to do. When you get the hang of filleting, you can zip through a pile of fish very quickly like a pro!

You can always ask your fish monger to fillet your fish but where’s the fun in that?

Always try to use fresh fish for filleting. Fresh cut fish fillets taste much better than pre cut fishes. Smell the fish well before you buy any. A fresh fish should feel pleasantly like a sea. A fresh fish can make the filleting process much easier and enjoyable. Dull fishes will make the game tougher.

The most important thing to remember while filleting is to always use a sharp knife, whether fillet knife or chef knife. Clean it properly if it’s slippery and runs out of your hand so you get a better grip.

Scaling could be very messy because the scales fly all over the kitchen and you keep discovering them in strange places for days. If you want to avoid such mess then you can ask the fish monger to do the scaling.

You may usually look for smaller species whole, larger fish such as salmon, largemouth bass, northern pike, walleye for filleting. Don’t be upset if you don’t get all the meat off the fish when you first try it. Your skill will get better overtime.

Firstly, I’ll write on how to clean the fish properly in a few steps and then you will get to know about the filleting process.

Cleaning Of The Fish

Washing: Rinse the fish carefully in running water by rubbing them gently. Clean any remaining dirt if left. Now remove excess water from the fish by putting some pressure with your hands and pat it dry with a kitchen towel. place the fish on a dry cutting board for scaling.

Descaling the fish: Scaling is removing scales of the fish from its skin. Most fishes have scales on all over their skin. You can avoid this step if you like to eat fish scale. You can find good quality scaling equipment from the shop which will help you to scale the fish easily. If you don’t have any scaler then you can use the back of a knife in descaling the fish. Scrape the scales off of a whole fish by using long strokes from trail to head using the back of a knife. Alternatively you can take off the fish skin if you want to avoid scaling mess or don’t love to eat fishes with skin.

Gutting: It’s time to open the stomach to clean the stomach contents. Place the tip of a sharp knife at the stomach side near the tail. Run the knife towards the head till the knife stops naturally. Now open the stomach cavity and clean up all the guts with cold water. Don’t be too harsh on the fish.

Filleting Of The Fish

  1. Cut off the fish’s head right behind the gills if you don’t like to eat fish head.
  2. Use your knife and cut along the top of the ribs from the tail towards the head. Use the backbone of the fish to guide your knife. Now turn over the fish and follow the same step. These fillets still contain belly fat, pin bones and rib bones.
  3. Use a trimmer to Cut off all the belly fats around these fillets. Using a tweezer, take off all the sturdy bones from the center. Try to feel the pin bones down the center with your fingers. Now make a V Shape on the flesh containing pin bones with your knife.
  4. Remove the V shaped flesh as it contains bones.
  5. Clean up your fillets in running water so that any remaining dirt or blood can be washed away. Place them in a ziplock bag and store them in the freezer. You can write down the manufacture date of the fillets on the bag. The fish will stay good for 2 or 3 months in the freezer.


  • Smell fish while buying. A fresh fish won’t smell fishy rather smell of the sea.
  • Fresh fish have shiny and bright eyes. Never buy a fish if the eyes are dull.
  • You don’t have to descale the fish if you want to grill.
  • Clean your hands and working surfaces properly.

Warning: Do not leave kids with sharp knives. An adult should always supervise them.

Always keep your hands behind the blades.

A fillet knife is very sharp and dangerous. Be careful while using it.


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