How to Fillet

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How to fillet your catch


Probly the most stuffed up part of preparing a fish for the table is filleting. It is usually when filleting that a decent fish is hacked to the point where the fillets are next to useless and a good proportion of the fish is wasted. Just about all fish can be filleted, and when done correctly usually results in boneless sections fit for a king. Filleting takes some practice and this is usually done on less desirable species such as tuna or mullet. If a few simple instructions are followed good results won't be too far behind.
Tools of the trade.
1. Cutting board - One of good size to hold large fish. Ours is approx 1500mm long.

2. Carving knife - Used to fillet large fish and make initial incisions to cut through cartilage.

3. Protective Glove - Protect your other hand.

4. Filleting knife - Fillet smaller fish and to trim fillets of larger fish.

5. Steel - To touch up the blade as you fillet to keep it sharp.

After initially scaling, gilling and gutting the fish at the ramp it is best to fillet the fish at home. The first cut is made behind the pectoral fin and up towards the head. This cut removes the fin and also most of the bones from the rib cage.
The next cut is made at the tail of the fish and then up along the back of the fish until it meets the first cut.
Remember to keep the blade against the bones so you get the maximum amount of meat on the actual fillet.
The next cut is along the bottom of the fish, from the anus of the fish to the cut on the tail, keeping the knife against the bones of the fish. Then the next cut is to cut down to the spine of the fish top and bottom to separate the meat.
The final cut is from the rear of the fish towards the head, along the spine. This lifts the whole fillet away from the fish, as shown.
Follow the same steps to fillet the other side.
The remains of the gut lining is removed from the fillet using the fillet knife, as well as any left over blood line. The blood line is minimised by bleeding the fish on capture immediately. It improves the eating quality immensely.

Once all the blood line is removed you are left with a boneless fillet that you can do with what you will.

Some other things to remember when filleting is to have a clean, spacious environment to do the filleting. Run your knife on the steel to keep the edge of the blade. Also have a container to put your fillets in. A slurry of ice and saltwater is perfect. We fill our livewell with seawater so we have clean seawater to use. Another thing that makes filleting easier, is to put the fish in the freezer when you get home for about 30mins. This firms the flesh and makes it much easier to fillet.
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