How to Clean Saltwater Fish

How to Clean Saltwater Fish
In addition to possessing strong fighting qualities, saltwater fish is also a tasty addition to the dinner table. Although there are several ways to clean a saltwater fish, filleting is a good way to get the maximum amount of flesh without any bones. Filleting also cuts down on the mess since the entrails are not removed. Filleting takes some practice so do not get discouraged. You may waste some flesh in the beginning, but with practice, you will soon be filleting like a professional.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Fillet knife Fish glove
  • Fillet knife
  • Fish glove
Step 1
Start by making a cut just behind the ribcage and above the spine of the saltwater fish. Let the knife ride as close to the spine. Keeping the knife parallel to the spine, push until the blade is all the way through the fish.
Step 2
Separate the fillet from the fish by slowly working the blade towards the tail. Ensure that the knife is riding on the spine and that the blade exits the belly just above center. Stop cutting 1/2-inch from the tail.
Step 3
Reverse direction with the knife and return to where the cut started at the ribs. Grasp the fish head and sever the ribcage bones. Keep the knife blade riding on the spine.
Step 4
Cut firmly until the knife contacts the bones in the head. Remove the knife and cut down perpendicular to the body. Make the cut just behind the pectoral fin and angle back to get the meat behind and above the head. Cut until the fillet is free from the body.
Step 5
Flip the fillet over behind the fish. The fillet should only be attached by a small piece of skin at the tail. Remove the ribcage and discard.
Step 6
Start at the tail and make a shallow cut between the skin and the flesh. Let the knife glide just above the skin while cutting. Use a back and forth cutting motion and the knife should not cut the skin. Continue until the fillet is loose from the skin.
Step 7
Wash the fillet and place on ice. Flip the fish over and repeat on the other side.

Tips & Warnings

Always use a fish glove to protect against cuts and to help hold the fish. The knife must be sharp in order to fillet a fish.
Always use a fish glove to protect against cuts and to help hold the fish.
The knife must be sharp in order to fillet a fish.
Use caution when working with knives.

Article Written By Daniel Ray

Daniel Ray has been writing for over 15 years. He has been published in "Florida Sportsman" magazine. He holds an FAA airframe and powerplant license and FCC radiotelephone license, and is also a licensed private pilot. He attended the University of South Florida.

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