Li Qing | Fishmonger Tips

Fishmonger’s Guide to Filleting a Whole Fish

So you just made a trip to the fresh fish market and bought yourself a whole fish. Now what? Whole fish like bass or sea breams need to be gutted and scaled before cooking.

Fish lovers often shy away from buying whole fresh fish because of the work needed to prepare the fish for cooking. Scaling, gutting, and filleting a fish is a valuable skill to have in the kitchen, especially if you, like us, are nuts about fish!

Not to worry, we got your back! In this blog, we’ll explain in detail what you have to do to prepare a whole fish for cooking.

For starters, you’ll need a scaler, cutting board, sharp knife or filleting knife, and a pair of tweezers.

How to Scale a Fish

Scaling is the removal of scales from the skin of the fish. There are specific scalers sold frequently in fishing stores, but if you don’t have a scaler, you can just use the back of a knife. To scale a fish, place the scaler (or back of the knife) near the tail and rub it along the skin towards the head until all scales are removed.

After thoroughly removing the scales, rinse the fish off to ensure the skin is free of scales.

Scaling can get messy, and is best done outside or in an environment where cleaning up is easy. Alternatively, you can place the fish and board in a large plastic bag when scaling to keep the loose scales contained. They can fly everywhere!

How to Gut a Fish

Gutting a fish can seem icky, but is relatively easy. Using a sharp knife, open the fish from the base of the tail and cut forward towards the head. Spread the cavity open and remove all the innards.

There is a spot at the base of the head where you can sometimes feel everything connected. Grab that spot and pull the whole lot out. Innards might have to be cut out for larger fish.

Rinse the cavity clean, and voila! You have a gutted fish ready for the frying pan.

How to Fillet a Fish

To fillet a fish, you can use a specifically designed filleting knife, or in its absence, any sharp kitchen knife. Here’s our detailed step-by-step guide on how you can get the job done:

  1. Rinse the scaled, gutted fish under running water and pat dry.
  2. Lay the fish on its side on the cutting board with its back towards you.
  3. Make a cut from the top of the head behind the gills to the bottom of the head.
  4. Cut halfway through the fish to the backbone.
  5. Turn the knife parallel to the cutting board and cut along the spine from the head to the tail, holding the fish firmly steady.
  6. You might have to apply some pressure when you reach the rib bones to break through them.
  7. Cut all the way to the tail.
  8. Flip the fish over and repeat the same process for the other side.
  9. Cut under the top of the rib bones to the bottom of the fillet to remove the rib bones and belly flap.
  10. When the fillets are removed from the fish, feel for tiny bones and remove each bone with a pair of tweezers.
  11. Pull the bones out in the direction they are pointing, much like removing a splinter.

And with that, you’re all set to cook up a mouthwatering meal of fresh fish, filleted with your own two hands! Of course, practice makes perfect when it comes to filleting fish, so don’t give up if you don’t get it right the first time. If you’ve got a particularly tricky fish on your hands, you can always check out videos like this to help you get better at filleting them.

Order Fresh Fish Online In Singapore At Greenwood Fish Market

Now that you know the basics of how to fillet a fish, head to your friendly neighbourhood fish supplier and buy some fresh fish!

Or you can always skip the trip to the fish market and shop our collection of fresh fish online at Greenwood Fish Market.

If scaling, gutting, and filleting a fish isn’t your thing, let us help take the hassle out of preparing your fish. Our extensive range of fish fillets come already scaled and de-boned, ready for you to prepare as your heart desires. From sea bass and breams to salmon and snapper, there’s something for everyone and every dish!