Monday, January 10, 2011

How to clean and gut whole fish

(Note: this is not about how to fillet fish. I still haven't figured that out yet.)

But it is a basic tutorial in how to clean and gut whole fish, for the purposes of cooking them whole. Which I prefer anyway, because when you cook whole fish, you can remove almost the entire skeletal system in one fell swoop. Bones separate from cooked flesh much easier than raw flesh.

Anyway, so when you get a bunch of big beautiful redfish in your fish CSA like I did (above), here's what to do with them:

1. Wash the fish.

2. It's up to you whether you want to scale it (remove the scales)--I haven't been.

3. Using your super-awesome heavy-duty Shun kitchen scissors, snip off all the fins.

4. Cut the fish open along the belly, from the tail to just under the head.

5. Scoop out all the guts. You may want to wear gloves for this part. Sometimes things are more firmly attached than you would like, and you may have to snip out bits with your scissors.

6. Make sure to also get the parts that attach to the mouth (the esophagus, or whatever that's called in fish).

7. Throw all that stuff away. Rinse out the inside of the fish.

8. Now the fish is ready for baking or roasting or whatever. But if you want to remove the head, you can do so now with the heavy-duty kitchen scissors--just start cutting it off right below the fins, all the way around.

If you do that, you'll end up with something that looks like this:

If you cut the tail off and skinned them (above), you could manage eight fillets out of that.

9. But I froze the bottom half of the fish like they were, and popped the heads in a stockpot full of water (and other frozen fish detritus, bones, heads, etc., leftover from the last fish CSA) and made fish stock from it all.

I'll be making some variety of seafood stew soon with all that stock.

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