How To Clean A Fish – The Right Way

Cleaning fish the right way is important for a few reasons. The first one is that it removes bacteria and parasites that can cause food poisoning.

The second one is that it improves the taste and texture of the fish.

The third reason is that it makes the fish safer to eat by removing bones, scales, and other parts we can’t eat.

The last reason is that it also helps with the shelf life of the fish to keep it fresh longer.

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The best way or used cleaning techniques varies and is depending on what type of fish, but in general cleaning a fish involves scaling, gutting, and filleting.

The basic equipment to clean a fish

These basic fish-cleaning tools are about all you need to start with cleaning a fish.

  • A sharp fillet knife, spoon, or a fish scaler
  • A cutting board.
  • A pair of gloves
  • A pair of kitchen shears: This is used to cut off the fins and remove the gills.
  • Paper towel or a clean cloth.

Preparation And Tools

Removing Scales

There are several methods for removing scales on a fish, including:

  • Fish Scaler. This is a specialized tool, And I would only buy one if you are planning on cleaning a lot of fish.
  • Fillet Knife. Use the back of the knife.
  • Spoon. Use the rounded edge of a spoon
  • Vegetable Peeler. I read this is easy to use but I have never used one yet.

How To Use The Tools Above

Hold the fish firmly on the cutting board. By using the fish scaler, the back of the knife, spoon, or vegetable peeler scrape the scales off in the opposite direction of how the scales grow, starting at the tail end of the fish working your way to the head.

It’s important to hold the fish firmly while scaling it, so that the fish doesn’t slip out of your hands. This is also to make sure that you don’t cut yourself.

Gutting The Fish

Gutting a fish and how to do this depends on the size and what type of fish you are gutting. However, in general, any method for gutting fish is in the following steps.

  1. Make a cut behind the gills and the head of the fish.
  2. Make a cut down the middle of the fish’s belly, from the head to the tail.
  3. Use your fingers to reach inside the fish and use your fingers or the fillet knife to remove the entrails and remove the organs and intestinal tract.
  4. Rinse the inside of the fish with cold water to remove any remaining blood or debris.

It is a good idea to keep the fish as cold as you can. It will make it easier to handle and prevent the fish from spoiling.

Removing The Head And Tail

This is the easy part. Use a sharp knife and cut the head and tail off.

After these steps, it depends on what type of fish you are cleaning if you have to take the step of cutting the filets out.

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Cleaning the fish and your work area is an important step.

Now you basically are done cleaning and gutting it is time to clean your prepping surface and the fish.

What you should do is rinse the fish to remove any blood or remains from cutting.

Par it dry with a paper towel.

Clean your cutting board thoroughly.

Cooking or storing

You are done cleaning the fish and now you have to choose between cooking the fish or storing it for later cooks.

If you store it, do it as fast as possible and I suggest that you should freeze it for longer storage.

If you are cooking it, you still have to store it in the fridge to keep it at a safe temperature until you are ready to season and cook it.

fish being cleaned under running water

How To Clean A Fish- Summary And My Opinion

The first time I cleaned a fish it took me a long time and I probably wasted some good food.

As always, practice makes perfect and with a little practice you can become very good and fast at cleaning a fish.

It is maybe easy to start with one of the 5 easy fish to grill since I guess you are going to eat them.

By following the steps I mentioned above, scaling, gutting, and removing the head and tail you can easily save money on the fish you buy.

Why Clean Your Own Fish?

I can, however, hear you say why would I clean my own fish? I can buy them cleaned in the stores.

You are right and that makes it easier. But buying a cleaned fish is more expensive than buying a whole fish and cleaning it yourself.

A second benefit is that you can see how fresh the fish is. A ready-cleaned fish in the store can be older than you think.

With the cuttings you have left, you can make a perfect fish stock and waste nothing.

Eddie van Aken

Eddie van Aken has years of experience in running his full-service restaurant and with this came working with using and dealing with all types of kitchen equipment. With his experience, he can find all the pros and cons of grills and add them to the grill reviews and the outdoor cooking tips he is writing about. You can read more on the About page for Eddie van Aken

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