How do you filet a roasted whole fish?

Can you point me towards any videos or instructions with photos? I want to try roasting a whole fish in a salt crust (inspired by several of the delicious looking recipes on this site) but am intimidated by the idea of filleting the fish in front of my guests.

Ms. T
  • Posted by: Ms. T
  • April 9, 2011


Ms. T. April 10, 2011
Thanks all for the great tips, and the video. And the very good advice to not stress about it. I'll be making this for my cooking club--six woman who I've been cooking and laughing with for 10 years, so it will be a fun team sport and it's definitely the type of crowd that wouldn't mind just digging into the whole fish with their forks, or even fingers ;) Can't wait to try this!
ChefJune April 10, 2011
I find it helps to run your knife along the packbone after you do the head and tail cuts -- before running the knife between the skeleton and the meat.

And DO use a boning knife. If you don't have one, it's a great investment.
amysarah April 10, 2011
Th best advice in the Melissa Clark video is not to stress about doing it perfectly - I was intimidated by whole fish for years, then finally realized my guests knew I wasn't running Le Bernardin. And even though roasting them is a cinch, serving a whole fish looks impressive - regardless of surgically precise fillet technique.

One thing about the video: Melissa uses individual-sized (1-1.5 lb.) fish with fairly thin sides, so she removes the top fillet in small chunks/flakes; it's actually easier to fillet 'intact' pieces with a bigger, thicker fish, e.g., salmon, that serves several people. Starting at tail or head, do shallow vertical cuts (just to the bone) in more or less 'portion' sizes, then run a very sharp knife underneath each, along bone - you can then lift a 'whole' section onto the plate. But it also depends on the fish's flakiness, how long you've roasted it, other words, if it breaks into smaller pieces upon lift-off....c'est la vie. Your guests will love it anyway.
Sam1148 April 10, 2011
With a knife make two cuts, one by the tail by the head section.
With a broad bladed knife. Go under the tails section..follow the bones..just scraping them with the knife. Lift off that section..turn it over and repeat. Save the bones.

Use scissors to cut off the fins.
Heat up some oil in a pot and dust corn starch on the bones and fins...use a paper bag. And the skin if you've removed it. Deep fry those to very crispy.
spuntino April 9, 2011
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