A How-to Guide for Cleaning Fish


While following quite a simple technique, cleaning fish isn’t the most pleasant of tasks. Nevertheless, after you’ve got the first one done and have tasted the glory of fresh fish in Malta, you’ll forget all about the mess. Azzopardi Fisheries wanted to share simple guide for cleaning fish with the rest of you.


1. Prepare a plastic bag or bucket to discard unwanted parts

Our guide for cleaning fish has one very important warning to begin with: a messy workstation spells nothing but disastrous results. Make sure you have a clean work top and throw away all the raw fish parts after working. Prepare your disposal system prior to cutting, so you can toss the guts and excess fish easily. Additionally, having some newspaper laid out on the cutting surface is helpful for soaking up the unavoidable liquids that will spill out of the fish.

2. Descale the fish

Using a blunt knife or spoon, use a quick raking motion to remove the scales. You need to work against the normal direction of the scales, raking up from tail to head. Apply a short, shallow, scoop motion, getting under the scales and pushing up and into them quickly to rake them out of the fish.

Alternatively, you can use the back side of a knife, held a little less than perpendicular to the fish. To avoid making a mess, you can always remove the scales under a running tap or in a washbasin filled with water.

3. Cut a shallow slit from the bottom end up to the head

The small hole on the belly of the fish, back near the tail, is the anus. Using a sharp knife, make a shallow cut from there along the belly of the fish, stopping at the base of the gills. Aim for a shallow cut so that you can pull them out intact, preventing spillage.

4. Scoop out the fish’s innards

You’ll need a dull spoon for this step – be sure to remove everything, and double check afterwards just to be absolutely certain.

5. Scrape out any dark, inner membrane

Not all fish have this thin layer in their inner cavity; if they do, you’ll want to remove it. This has a pungent flavour and has an oily, extra-fishy aroma which is far from appetising.

6. Remove any sticky scales and spare bits left over

We suggest using a paper towel to gently wipe any remaining particles off, as water can easily diminish the natural flavour of the fish.

If you’re a fan of cooking fish, but still have no clue as to how to clean it, fear not – our team at Azzopardi Fisheries in St. Paul’s Bay will do the job so you don’t have to! Be sure to come visit our stores, where you’ll be spoilt for choice with our selection of freshly caught fresh fish and seafood in Malta. If you have your own guide for cleaning fish, share it with us in the comments!

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