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How to fillet a salmon

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One of the most intimidating parts of dealing with salmon is knowing what to do with the whole fish — skin, bones and all the other beautiful parts that we wish never came with it. Sometimes, it seems like it’d be so much easier just to buy the overpriced fillets separately from the grocery store. But when you go fishing or just want to buy the freshest possible fish you can get your hands on, you’ll want to know how to fillet it yourself. Lucky for you, Spencer Watts, host of Fish the Dish, can teach you exactly what to do — and it isn’t as challenging as you probably think it is.

Materials

  • whole fish, completely defrosted and dry
  • knife
  • tweezers
  • two trays to put fillets and skin on

Directions

  1. Cut a straight line from the base of the tail, just above the dorsal fin, all the way to the fish’s head.
  2. Carefully use the knife to remove its head.
  3. Straighten the fish and tilt your knife to be parallel to the cutting board. Starting at the neck, cut along the fish’s backbone towards the tail, where you made the first incision. Keep cutting until the fish has been completely cut in half. Place the half without the backbone aside.
  4. Place the half with the tail scale-side up, Place your knife above the spine of the fish, and cut it all the way across, separating most of the meat of the fish from the spine and tail. Use a spoon to scoop any of the meat from the bony side. Toss the skin and bones.
  5. Remove the bone line on the meaty fillet with a knife.
  6. Cut away the belly, which is the fattiest part of the fish, in one long cut, saving it for later.
  7. Use tweezers to remove any bones left in the centre of fish.
  8. Skin the fish: Cut a small piece of the fish off the tapered end, exposing the skin, so you have something to grab onto while cutting the fillet. Grab the skin with one hand, and run your knife along the fish, separating it from the skin.
  9. Cook the fillets anyway you’d like — everything tastes better when you do it yourself.

Catch more of Spencer Watts on Fish the Dish every Friday at 9:30 p.m. ET.

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