Guest Post: Helpful Hints On How To Fillet A Fish Perfectly For A Grand Meal

Hello Foodies,

From time to time we share our platform with guests and friends. This time we would like to welcome Patricia Smith from  to share some wisdom.

Enjoy her interesting and helpful hints! NK


Got a big family dinner coming up? Or a birthday surprise for a seafood-loving spouse? While your options for dishes may be plenty, it pays to have some good fish on the menu. However, most people tend to refrain from serving fish at home as they are unsure of how to serve it. The last time a friend tried serving fish when she had a few of us come over, it quickly became a squishy mess with folks from around the table stabbing at it with their forks. It turned into an uninviting pile of meat and bones. Never again, she vowed. Better quality and cheaper options are two important reasons why you should consider filleting your own fish. 

Here are 8 helpful hints (steps) to fillet a fish perfectly for a grand meal:

  1. Buy the fish whole, and fresh. In order to determine how fresh your fish is, ensure that you buy it whole from a local fish market. Look for one with firm flesh that springs back when pressed. Other fresh factors to look for are glistening eyes, red gills, and no smell. Another reason to buy the fish whole is to make use of the leftover bones and scraps, which make quality fish stock.
  2. Organize the right equipment. You will require a sharp filleting knife with a blade that depends on the length of your fish. Go for thin blades which give flexibility to make precise cuts around complex areas like the ribcage without wasting any flesh. Fish tweezers are helpful in picking out tiny bones. You can even use your partner’s when they are not watching, but do not blame us if you get caught.
  3. Start off by removing the scales. If you remembered to get your fishmonger to remove the scales, stop reading and pat yourself on the back. The rest of you, don’t hesitate. There is much to be done. Hold the blunt edge of your knife at a slight angle and scrape off the scales, going from tail to head. Ensure that you have done a thorough job on both sides.
  4. Prepare for filleting. Once the fish is clean of its scales, run it under cold water. Pat it dry with a kitchen roll and place it on a cutting board on its side, with its back facing you. Now you are about to take the first step to start the filleting process. Arch the fish up slightly. Locate the spot just beneath the main fin on the back of head and make a small incision.
  5. Time for the first, proper cut. Starting from the incision you made in the previous step, slide your knife along the backbone. Cut to the tail, and try to go slowly as to keep the knife as close to the spine as possible. Another key thing to remember is that you must always use a gliding motion with the knife. So, before cutting, ensure that it is sharp. If the knife is slightly blunt, you will end up using a sawing motion, resulting in a mess.
  6. Take off the fillet. Here is the tricky part in the whole filleting process. Separate the fillet by cutting from the bottom and cutting around the rib cage. In case the rib cage tends to protrude (if you are filleting sea bass), lift the flesh slightly with one hand and use a bit of force to slide your knife through.  
  7. Trim the excess fat and skin. Place the fillet flat on the cutting board and start to strip away the portions that you may not eat. This includes skin and the fat from the belly. Remember, some people do enjoy the fat, but it can complicate the cooking process as it tends to cook faster than the rest of the fish. A better option is to keep the fat in reserve for fish stock. To remove the skin, place the fillet skin-down. Place your knife precisely between the flesh and skin from the tail end. Run the knife slowly and smoothly along the fillet while maintaining a slight angle. Before proceeding to the final step of your process, repeat Steps 6 and 7 on the other side of the fish. This maybe a bit difficult as you lose some steady support having removed the fillet on one side.
  8. Remove tiny bones. It is time for the final step. Using your tweezers, start removing the tiny bones and fragments that are found along the middle of the fillet. Another indication of how fresh your fish is – it is more difficult to remove the bones. Feel the bones with your fingers as you go as this will help you to find them easier. Although it may seem hard, filleting a fish is quite easy if you try it a couple of times and use these great tips. Once done, pick a recipe of your choice and impress your partner or friends with a meal fit for royalty.

Patricia Smith – Hi, this is Patricia Smith! I am a 30-year-old mom blessed with two beautiful children!

I love cooking and this blog,, is a small effort of mine to guide others on a healthy cooking habit. If you would like to know more about me, just ask!