Fish Filleting Method


In Asian dishes, fish are often served whole and this often poses a challenge to those who love eating fish yet lack the competency in the art of “fish dissection” or rather finding it a hassle. How do we cater to this eating preference? There are ways to go around.

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Be sure to know how to choose the right knife for filleting fish and learning to maintaining the knife is essential. We have covered it in our previous article.

Here is a simple and easy-to-follow guide of filleting a fish.

There are more videos on alternative filleting methods for your reference.

Below is the advance level practised by those fish traders in Japan.

Once a craft is mastered, things always seems so easy and natural, right?

But behind the scene, I am sure you know that there are many nitty gritty aspect of how a craft is acquired. Having to walk through the steep learning curve may seem like forever. At times, impatience gets in the way.

Anyway, there are different types of fish cuts and portions.

Butterfly fillet
Smaller whole fish, (typically 300-400g), can be prepared by removing the head and cutting through either the back or belly side of the fish. The two small fillets remain joined along one side, creating a butterfly fillet when opened.
Types of Fish: herring, mackerel, rainbow trout, sardines, sea bass, whiting


Canoed fillet
The fish is filleted in a similar way to butterfly fillet, however, the head is left on. This leaves a ‘canoe’ style fillet, ideal for filling.
Types of Fish: herring, mackerel, rainbow trout

Fillets are the most commonly used cut. The fillet is taken off the bone, although pin bones may remain in round fish. Fillets cut from larger fish can subsequently be cut into portions.
Types of Fish: cod, brill, dabs, Dover sole, gurnards, herring, lemon sole, megrim sole, monkfish, plaice, pollock, rainbow trout, salmon, sardines, sea bass, whiting


Goujons are small strips cut from a fillet lengthways. These are usually prepared by coating and frying. Typically produced from white fish.
Types of Fish: cod, lemon sole, ling, plaice, pollock, whiting


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Loins or medallions
Loins are cut from large fish. Typically, large loins will be cut into boneless suprêmes.
Types of Fish: monkfish, swordfish, tuna


Pin boned
Once a fish is filleted it may still contain tiny bones (pin bones). These can be removed by machine or more traditionally by hand with pliers.
Types of Fish: cod, haddock, mackerel, pollock, salmon, trout, whiting

Pocketed fish
Smaller size flat fish can be prepared this way. They are de-headed, trimmed and filleted without cutting into the top or bottom sides, leaving the tail on and creating a pocket that is ideal for filling.
Types of Fish: cod, dab, lemon sole, megrim, plaice

Quarter-cut fillet
Created by taking two prepared fillets from a flatfish and cutting them lengthways to create four fillets.
Types of Fish: Dover sole, lemon sole, plaice

Steak, darnes and troncons
These are terms for cutting portions right through the bone from the whole of a round fish.
Types of Fish: cod, hake, salmon


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These are cuts from large fillets or loins of fish yielding a thick boneless portion.
Types of Fish: cod, haddock, marlin, pollock, salmon, swordfish, tuna


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This term is commonly used for monkfish, where the majority of meat comes from the tail. It can be cut from the bone to provide fillets.
Types of Fish: monkfish



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