HOW TO fillet

a fish

If you have ever wanted to learn how to fillet a fish, now is your chance. Aside from it being far more cost-effective to buy an entire fish rather than a filleted fish or portions of fish, it is also something very useful to add to your personal skill set in the kitchen.

Here is a general guide on how to fillet a whole fish:

Materials Needed:

  1. Whole fish
  2. Clean cutting board
  3. Sharp fillet knife
  4. Towel or paper towels


1. Prepare your workspace:

  • Place the clean cutting board on a stable surface.
  • Have a towel or paper towels handy for cleaning and wiping the knife.

2. Scale and gut the fish:

  • If the fish is not already scaled and gutted, do this first. Remove scales by scraping from tail to head using a fish scaler or the back of a knife. Cut open the belly to remove the internal organs.

3. Make the initial cut:

  • Lay the fish on its side with the head facing away from you.
  • Using a sharp fillet knife, make a diagonal cut behind the gills and pectoral fin, down to the backbone.

4. Cut along the backbone:

  • Turn the knife parallel to the spine and cut along the backbone from head to tail. Use smooth, sweeping motions.
  • As you cut, use your free hand to pull the fillet away from the bones to keep the blade close to the backbone.

5. Remove the fillet:

  • Once you reach the tail, flip the fillet away from the fish and cut through the skin, separating the fillet from the rest of the fish.
  • Flip the fish and repeat the process on the other side.

6. Remove rib bones:

  • With the fillet removed, you will have a ribcage on the remaining side. Trim the fillet along the rib bones by angling the knife slightly to separate the flesh from the bones.

7. Repeat on the other side:

  • Turn the fish over and repeat the process on the other side to obtain the second fillet.

8. Trimming and skin removal:

  • Trim any excess fat or thin belly flaps from the fillets.
  • If desired, you can remove the skin by sliding the knife between the skin and flesh while holding the tail.


Practice makes perfect! The technique may vary slightly depending on the type and size of the fish.

a fishy smell?

All seafood should have an ocean-like, salty, fresh smell which some may interpret as slightly ‘fishy’. This smell is completely normal and there is nothing to worry about. The benchmark for when you should be concerned about the smell is when it is closer to that of ammonia – rancid and rotten. If you do not like the normal ocean smell, you can try to soak the seafood in milk for no more than 20 minutes. Remember to pat the seafood dry afterwards, before cooking.