Knife Skills: How To Fillet a Fish

Filleting a fish can be an intimidating task, but it doesn’t have to be. We’re about to walk you through how to clean and cut a fish, so you can have the perfect cut for your seafood dinner.

1. Clean the Fish

Fishmongers can do this for you, but it’s not hard. You can use a knife or the edge of a spoon to scrape the scales off of the fish. This prevents them from getting into your food. Rinse and dry the fish after doing this.

2. First Cut

Place the fish on its side with the underside closer to you. Pull the fins around its head out and slice behind the fins and around the bone near the head.

3. Begin the Fillet

Flip the fish around, so the belly is on the other side. Place your knife in the cut you just made at the top of the head, and then slide your knife down the back, following the spine. I like to angle my knife toward the bone, so I can separate the flesh from the bone as closely as possible.

4. Remove First Fillet

Place the knife in the middle of the fish against the backbone and insert the knife through the fish. Then, slice down to the tail, creating a flap of the flesh. Use the first head cut as an entry point and snip the flesh down to the tail with a pair of scissors. And now we have our first filet!

5. Remove Second Fillet

Flip the fish over and repeat the first full cut in step two, slicing down the backbone from the initial slice on the head down to the tail. Then use the scissors to cut the second fillet off the fish.

6. Clean the Fillets

To remove the bones, use a smaller knife; place it underneath the biggest rib bones. Press the knife against the ribs gently and move upward toward the pin bones. Once you reach the pin bones, cut through to free the ribs. Now, use the knife from the other side of the ribs and pry up the rib bones until they gently peel away.

7. Remove Pin Bones and Trim

Once you remove the larger rib bones, you can remove the pin bones. Ensure you remove each pin bone one at a time to prevent biting into one later on. Trim the edges of the two filets, removing any unwanted parts.