Saturday, September 8, 2012

How to Fillet a Roundfish

How is everyone doing today?  It's really starting to look a lot like fall around here and I LOVE it!  It's definitely my favorite season of the year!

We're going on a boat trip next weekend, and I'm sure we'll be doing a lot of fishing, so I thought this tutorial would come in handy! 

Believe it or not, filleting a fish isn't the same from fish to fish.  Some fish are bottom-feeders (flat fish) and some are upright swimmers (roundfish).  Since most of the fish people eat are roundfish (i.e. salmon, tilapia, snapper, bluefish, etc.), I figured this way of filleting a fish would be most useful.  That's not to say you couldn't figure out how to fillet a flat fish (i.e. sole, flounder, etc.) with this tutorial.  You just end up with 2 extra fillets, but it's obvious how you get them.

Anyway, let's get to it. 

This bluefish was calling my name at my fish monger's counter, so I just had to bring him home!

#1. With a chef's knife, cut down to the backbone of the fish, just behind the gills.  Be careful not to remove the head.

#2. Turn the knife toward the tail to make a 90 degree angle.  Using smooth strokes, cut from the head to the tail, parallel to the backbone.  


You should feel the knife glide along the backbone so that you get the most flesh as possible.  You'll also hear "clicking" noises.  That's just your knife cutting through the small pin bones and gliding along the backbone.  Continue until the fillet is cut completely from the bones.  


Flip the fish over and repeat on other side.

#3. Trim any excess skin or belly fat from the fillet.  Remove any leftover pin bones in the fillet.

#4.  You can use this fillet skin-on or skin-off.  If you wanted to skin the fish, cut a vertical slit on the tail end of the fillet, about 1 inch inward.  Don't cut all the way through, just until you reach the skin.  Then hold your knife flat, but at a little bit of an angle, so that it glides against the skin, but not the flesh.  With your other hand, hold the piece of skin and simultaneously push your knife forward while pulling on the skin end.  And voila, skinned fillets!

We ended up making fish tacos out of this beautiful bluefish, and I kept the carcass for fish stock. 

How do you fillet your fish?!

Hope you guys have a great rest of your weekend!  I'll be working away!


  1. Very useful Post Peggy, that fish looks really fresh.

  2. Whole fish intimidates me but this doesn't look too difficult!

  3. I don't usually fillet a whole fish. Either I buy the fillets or I cook the whole fish :O ...Woops!

    Thanks for dropping by my blog.

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  5. I just got back from Alaska and boy did I fillet a few fish. So this made me smile! GREG

  6. Great tips Peggy. I filleted a Tuna caught off the coast of Montauk on Long Island a few years back and I must say, it was probably one of the easiest fish to fillet, ever!!! It sure was tasty too!!!

    I've never enjoyed Round fish but at least now I have an idea of how to fillet it if I should ever come across one, lol...

    Thanks so much for sharing...

  7. Very nice tutorial, Peggy! In Japan some of fresh fish is not fillet and sometimes we have to do it on our own and we learned how to fillet in school (so domestic!). Everyone should know how to do it because it's convenient especially when you go fishing! :)

  8. Funny I just saw this, I am doing the competition team at my culinary school and fillet of a round fish is on the skills salon. I will have to study this! =)