How to gut a Fish
When you buy fish from a fishmonger they are usually already gutted. If you catch your own fish or buy fish that have not already been gutted it is important to do this to remove the guts.
The demonstration we have shown here is gutting a mackerel but the method is the same for all round fish.
If you go into an angling shop you will have a choice of knives ranging from bait knives, gutting knives,filleting knives and penknives. It is not necessary to have all these different types of knife. A filleting knife can be used for cutting bait, gutting and filleting and the only other knife needed would be a small penknife for cutting fishing line and small strips of bait.
A good filleting knife should have a thin flexible curved blade and the blade should be at least 6″ (150mm) long. Filleting knives range from £3 upwards, some have sheaths to protect both blade and fingers and some are floating and it is up to the individual which one they would prefer.
Buy a filleting knife
PLEASE BE AWARE ABOUT THE CURRENT LAWS REGARDING KNIVES – WE CAN ONLY SELL KNIVES TO PEOPLE AGED 18 OR OVER AND RECOMMEND THAT THEY ARE NOT CARRIED OUTSIDE BUT ARE KEPT AT HOME.
How to Fillet fish
Filleting a fish is removing as much of the flesh as possible but leaving all the bones behind. This is a preferred method of serving fish to people not used to eating fish as many people find sifting through bones or finding bones in their dinner very off putting. We have demonstrated how to fillet three different types of fish in our videos. The basic method is the same in that you make an incision just behind the pectoral fin and then run the blade horizontally next to the main central bone towards the tail of the fish.
For larger fish like cod, pollack and haddock this will take several passes of the knife gradually working your way towards the back of the fish.
Filleting is something that takes practice and unfortunately, until you master it, your family may well have to endure the odd bones! It is worth persevering though as a lovely boneless fillet of freshly caught fish is a treat for anybody.
Filleting a Mackerel
Filleting a Plaice
Filleting a Whiting
Skinning a Fish Fillet
How to remove the skin from a whiting fillet
If you are planning on freezing your fish to eat at a later date then it is best to leave the skin on when your freeze it. When you remove it from the freezer, run it under the tap for a few seconds and then the skin will peel off easily.
If you want to skin it straight away then you will need to run a filleting knife between the flesh and the skin starting from the tail end. While doing this hold on tightly to the skin at the tail end. This is demonstrated in our video below.