You're out fishing, you've caught some, and now it's time to cook that fish! Huh, what's that first step?
Not everyone knows the best ways to get cooking, so here are some tips for all you anglers that want to get that fresh fish catch on the table!
Nothing more satisfying than cooking your own catch. Am I right? There is just something ceremonious and ritualistic about catching and/or harvesting your own food, reconnecting you with our ancestors and how they lived harmoniously with nature. If you’re a novice to fishing and wish to gain an idea of how to start cooking your own catch, we’ve broken it down for you to try! Please take proper precaution while handling the tools needed to go through this process.
- Scaling tool/knife
- Fillet knife
- Ziplock bags/buckets (for guts)
- Spoon (or gloves)
Step 1: Keep your catch so fresh and so clean, clean…
If you’re out deep sea fishing or even just out on the lake while camping, and want to wait to cook your fish back home, make sure you’re putting your fish on ice to keep it fresh!
Step 2: Fish to Scale
Once you’re ready to start scaling and filleting your fish, make sure to rinse off the slime and use a paper towel to pat dry thoroughly. You can use the dull side of a knife to start scaling your fish, or use a scaling knife (image above). Grab the fish from the tail, holding the dull side of the knife at an angle. Start scaling against the direction of the scale, from tail to head; they’ll start popping off like confetti! Some people prefer to hold the fish from the head and scale towards them - try them both out to see which way feel more comfortable!
Step 3: Spill your guts!
Time to slice. Rinse your fish again and pat dry with a paper towel. Make a cut right behind the gill cover in the fleshy part of the fish, cutting down at a slight angle past the pectoral fin, making sure not to cut the head off completely yet. Bring your knife back up towards the spine, and turn your knife at angle, having the sharp side facing the tail. Use down pressure to begin slicing the fish by using the spine as your guide as you slice the fish all the way down to the tail, continuously adding pressure down towards the spine until you’ve reached the tail.
Now, take your rib cage off the fillet (dark red line that runs down the middle of the fillet you just cut), and making thin, sweeping cuts at an angle as though making butterfly cuts until the rib cage and fatty tissue comes off. Turn the fish over, and repeat.
ECO-FRIENDLY NOTE ABOUT THE GUTS: Unless you’re deep sea fishing, it’s not a good idea to dispose of these guts in the water; it can cause disease to spread and can be fatal to other fish. The BEST thing to do is to pack them out; double bag them and use them as fertilizer! Return it to the eco-system. As for the head, you can use it to cook broth! Yum. Waste not, want not.
Step 4: Skin it. (Optional)
For each fillet, make a small, angled cut about an inch from the tail. Hold the tail below the cut for leverage, and begin slicing the fillet all the way up to the top until the skin is completely peeled. Skinning your fillet is really a matter of preference!
Another Method for Cutting Fish:
You can also opt to make steak cuts to your fish for grilling, which is also a popular method. It’s very simple! All you have to do is cut the head off (completely this time) below the pectoral fin, gut it, and rinse. Make cuts at your desired thickness (1”-1 ½”) until you reach the anal fin. At this point, you can fillet the rest of the fish down to the tail (this way you can have the best of both worlds)! Cut the tail end of you steak cuts to remove the fat, and voila! You’re done! Remember, the fatty part and the head you can use for broth, and then use the remains as fertilizer.
Your eco-friendly and cooking your own catch; nicely done!