How to fillet a round fish

Filleting a whole fish is much easier than you might think - especially when you follow a few expert tips from Head Chef Lecturer at our Cookery School in Padstow, Nick Evans. Watch below to learn how to perfectly remove both fillets from a whole round fish - like sea bass or mackerel. You'll also find lots of recipe inspiration here.

Follow our expert guidance

How to fillet a whole round fish

You’ll need

- Your favourite whole round fish

- Sharp, flexible knife

- Decent scissors

- Pin boners

- Chopping board

Follow this method to fillet a whole round fish

1) Start by removing the head and spines that run along the back of the fish. For the spines - always work from the tail towards the head - use a decent pair of scissors and cut these off. You’ll also find the single spine by the gut cavity on the bottom of the fish which it’s best to remove too. Then, to cut off the head, cut behind the pectoral fin on an angle and down to the bone. Turn the fish over and repeat this on the other side before carefully twisting the head off.

2) For the filleting, make sure your knife is sharp and always work along the dorsal line. Starting at the tail end, make a small inclusion and work your knife slowly and smoothly up towards the head, gradually releasing the fillet as you go and keeping as close to the bones as you can. Carefully cut over the rib cage (this is the tricky part) and then your first fillet will be done.

3) Turn the fish over and cut the opposite way, starting the head end and working down the dorsal line towards the tail. Again, smooth strokes with the knife to release the fillet before cutting over the ribcage to the remove it from the bone.

4) Run the tip of your finger along the middle of the fillet and you’ll feel the bones running close through the thickest part of it. These need to be removed before cooking. Using a pair of pin boners or kitchen tweezers, gently remove each bone – being careful to only remove the bones, not the flesh. Repeat with the second fillet.

5) Finally, trim the fillets to make them look presentable and then you’re ready to cook.

Happy filleting.

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