Tuesday, March 24, 2009

How to Bone a Fish

You can debone fish both before and after cooking. The bones separate quite easily after cooking, but it's often more pleasant to eat fish when the bones are removed beforehand.

Place the cleaned and dressed fish on cutting surface.

Hold the fish by the head (if the head is still attached; it doesn't need to be) and slice into the fish behind the gill until you feel the knife touch backbone.

Turn the knife so it's flat against the backbone, touching the ribs. The edge should face the tail.

Cut along the backbone through the fish from head to tail, under the fillet.

Turn fish over and repeat. At this point two sets of bones will remain in the fillet.

Cut away the rib cage bones, which will be visible, by sliding the edge of the knife between the rib bones and the meat of the fillet.

Pull out the smaller set of bones, called pin bones, that run through the center of the fillet.

Use your finger to feel for the pin bone tips sticking out of the fillet. Use tweezers or needle-nose pliers to grab the tips and pull them out.

# The sharper the knife, the better. Fish flesh is usually very delicate, especially trout and smaller fish, and requires a very sharp knife to cut cleanly. Serrated knives and electric knives are not recommended. They will make a mess.
# Fish should be cleaned and dressed before deboning, that is, they should be gutted and rinsed in clean water. (See the related eHows for instructions.)
# Flat fish, such as halibut, sole and flounder, have the same sets of bones, but they're aligned differently. You can fillet them and leave the bones behind completely. Fillet flatfish by making a cut down the backbone (feel for it with your fingers first). On either side of the backbone, cut down until you feel the ribs, then slice under the fillet along the ribs until you reach the edge of the fish and the fillets are removed in two pieces per side.
# Since you'll be using a very sharp knife, be careful.


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