Fish Quick Lesson: Benefit of Filleting a Whole Fish

Posted on Sep 30, 2016 in Hiroko's Blog, Recipes

3lb sea bass

locally caught 3lb sea bass from Blue Moon Fish Monger, Union Square Farmers Market, NYC

Meal kit delivery service market is going to generate $1.5 billion in sales this year. I am not yet or never be converted to that camp. Going to the food store and farmers market and being exposed to seasonally changing produce and fish, selecting and purchasing them for the meals is so important part of my life that no excuse gets into my way not doing it.

Especially, fish quality matters me a lot, so I have to do the shopping. Every early Wednesday morning, except when I am out of the city, is the day when I go to the Blue Moon fishmonger at Union Square farmers market under any weather conditions and buy a locally caught, whole fresh fish. The fishmonger sells already filleted fish for convenience, but they never draw my attention.



Proper fish scaling tool is necessity

Here are the benefits of purchasing a whole fish and fillet it in our kitchen. By doing so, we get ‘the freshest quality’ fish. Period.

  1. Whole fish stays fresher, longer than the filleted fish at the fish monger’s iced counter. Fish which is harvested from the water is naturally covered with bacteria. Once the fish is scaled and filleted, these bacteria are transferred onto the muscle meat. Then, this contributes to quicker spoilage.
  2. Whole fish can tell us how fresh it is and the degree of freshness as well. Sometimes how bad it is. We cannot judge the freshness easily from already filleted fish. Just smell it? The last solution.
  3. Here is How to check the freshness of a whole fish checking list
  • Eyes should be clear and plump
  • Scales should be intact to the body
  • The gill should be pink, clear and not slimy
  • The intestines should be fresh, plump and no off smell
  • The fresh should be resilient when you gently press the fish on the skin with your finger
  • Fresh whole fish smells like a sea breeze

4.Filleting fish should be done on a very clean chopping board with occasional rinsing of the fish and the chopping board (rinsing off the blood is very important) during the filleting process.

5. When we fillet a whole fish at home, our filleted fish has no chance to contact with any other fish fillets, which are common for the filleted fish sold at fishmonger counter. Thus, our fish has the cleanest flavor and retain the freshest status.

6. Filleted fish is, of course, the best consumed on the day of the filleting, but when we start with the very fresh fish like I do (see the freshness check list above), our filleted fish easily last fresh for up to 6 days in the refrigerator.I admit that number of people who can or want to fillet a whole fish in one’s own kitchen is tiny. But, I encourage you to join me. Or, buy the whole fish and ask the fishmonger to fillet it for you. This is much better than buying the already filleted fish.

Come back to read additional Fish Quick Lesson. Find out how to best store the self-filled and purchased, already-filled fish in the next posting.