How to Fillet a Fish Skillfully

No matter the cooking method, freshly caught fish is a delicious treat whatever the occasion. Our team at Azzopardi Fisheries, popular providers of fresh fish in Malta – highlight essential factors to keep in mind when filleting fish.

1. Cut the fish

Lay the fish on one side. Cut just behind the top of the head until you hit the backbone. Just cut to the spine, not through it. Continue cutting in an arc shape around the fish’s head. You needn’t cut deeper than the backbone. Don’t cut the head off, just cut about halfway into the fish.

2. Cut the tail

Cut through the fish’s centre horizontally towards the tail. The knife will move vertically towards the backbone, which you can use as a guide to guarantee you’ll get a flat cut. Turn the fish on its other side, and repeat the above instructions.

3. Remove the ribcage

With a smaller knife, lift and remove the ribcage from inside the fillet. This will be the small, almost transparent set of bones on the lower third of fish fillet. This part generally comes off easily in one piece.

4. Scaling the fish

If you prefer cooking the fish with the skin on, use the blunt part of a knife for scaling. Apply a short, lifting motion from the tail to the head to quickly remove all the scales. If you’re not a fan of the skin, simply slide the knife between the fish and skin and cut the skin away.

5. If you want to cut steak pieces…

Using a sharp knife, cut the fish perpendicular to the backbone, going all the way through the spine to get thick, 1″ steaks. This method is common with bigger fish – like tuna and salmon – and retains the spine running through the middle of the fish.

6. (If desired) Cut off the head

You don’t have to; in fact, for some cooking methods it’s best to leave it on when filleting fish, as this is the part which adds flavour and depth. Nevertheless, if you do opt for this phase, make sure to cut the head directly behind the gills.

7. Removing the dorsal fin

It’s actually not necessary to remove this particular fin, but it is useful if you want to get rid of those really tiny bones left underneath. Hold the fin down near the tail and pull quickly – it will come off in just a single quick motion.

Filleting fish can be a tricky chore, so if you would like a helping hand, you can rely on our team at Azzopardi Fisheries in St. Paul’s Bay, who will gladly do the job for you. Come over and visit our store for the best selection of fresh fish in Malta.

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