There’s something within me that wants to be a pioneer woman, who can accomplish anything with a good sharp knife, and that includes filleting a whole fish. This is a challenging task, and often our first attempts we end up with a massacred fish, with uneven and jagged cuts in the fillet and leaving behind a good portion of the delicious fish on the bones. It’s much easier to scale the fish while it’s still one big piece, so do that first. I use a small knife and just remove all the scales. I know there are fancy fish scalers, but I prefer to keep things simple and have an aversion to unitaskers, so the knife works for me.
Hold the fish firmly by the tail with one hand and scrape the scales off with your knife, starting from the tail and scraping from the tail to the head. Don’t get too rambunctious with this step, since fish scales will fly EVERYWHERE.
Cut off the head of the fish and then cut off all the fins. They are really sharp, so I like to get rid of them first, or they could hurt you.
Make an incision along the spine of the fish with a very sharp knife, and keep the knife parallel to the bones, as you cut off the fillet. You’ll need to apply some pressure to get through the bones in the center of the fillet.
Remove the pin bones from the fillets, by running your finger along the fillet. Pull them out with some tweezers or small pliers. Pull the bones out in the direction that they are pointing.
Now you can use the fish skeleton and use it to make a flavorful fish broth and make a light and aromatic Fisherman’s Soup – Ukha.