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How to fillet Cod and other white fish

When filleting some cod the other day I did a step by step for my BIL, I then thought it might be helpful to some OTGer’s so here goes.

A good sharp fillet knife will help with this job.

Lay the fish on its side lift the fin at the neck and make a cut into the backbone as below.

Then the vent fin is removed make a cut on both sides of the fin until you reach the vent hole.

Now the vent fin has been removed lift the belly flap to find the end of the stomach cavity push your knife just on top of the backbone.

Make sure the cutting edge of the knife is against the backbone and push the knife towards the tail, you might have to stop and adjust the knife a little, the closer to the bone the less meat will be left on the bone.

Now place the fish belly down, making sure you pull the belly flaps out the sides this makes it easier to cut the fillet away form the rib bones and will help balance the fish while you cut the fillet away from the backbone.

Place the knife at the top of neck, up against the backbone and draw the knife down the backbone keeping the knife as close to the backbone as possible, until you have freed the top half of the filet.
The top half of filet is now free so put your knife at the bottom of backbone and turn a little and follow the rib bones until the filet comes away in one piece.

Turn the fish over and make another cut behind the fin until you reach the backbone.

Find the end of the stomach cavity and push the knife though keeping the knife as close to the backbone as possible, and push the towards the tail.

Now place the fish belly side down pulling the remaining belly flap out. Place the knife at the fin cut and draw the knife down the backbone, until the top half of filet is free, turn the knife a little and follow the rib bones and the filet should come away in one piece.

Place a filet skin side down place the knife at the tail end pressing the knife down against the skin and move it forward, this may take a little practice hold the skin in one hand while using the knife to flick the filet up so you can see what you are doing.

To make the filet 100% bone free you will need to remove the nerve bone, place the knife at one side of nerve and cut to neck end of fillet, repeat on other side. Make a cut at the end of belly flap to make sure you have not left any rib bones in there. Trim to tidy up your fillet and run your fingers along the cut of the nerve bone making sure you have removed all bones. You now have a 100% bone free fillet.

You should end up with the following.

Whats left you can boil up and make the start of a fish stock, then give to the cat when you have finish with it.

If you are lucky enough to catch some large cod 4-5 kilos+ then there is a few more cuts you need to make, at the top of the head, sit two pieces of meat, cut these V form piece away from the skull, as they make fantastic eating, as do the cheeks and the bottom of the mouth.

The End.

Good job.  Never had cod but they look to be very meaty white fleshed fish.  From the pictures it looks like they are scaleless.  Is this right?

Very traditional fish in the UK Fish & Chip (Fries) Shops.
Battered and deep fried with Chips, Salt and Vinegar. Wrapped in paper and eaten from the paper with fingers, walking along. After the pub supper.

An excellent post mate

A brilliant post but send me your address and I'll send you some decent cider.

bodger wrote:
A brilliant post but send me your address and I'll send you some decent cider.

Thanks mate very kind.

Beggers can't be choosers, mate

Netto supermarket is the only supermarket to stock cider, so you get to choose strongbow or Westons.

Danes in their wisdom have put cider in the same tax class as champange, making it blodoy expensive.

I am normally in the UK once or twice a year so I always put 3-400 tins on the back of the pick up. but in 2010 I have not managed to find time to make a visit, which is why I have to make do with what I can get over here.

Weston's a nice cider, mate. I'm not much of a cider drinker myself, but that's one I do quite enjoy  

Great post re' the filleting! I get the occasional cod from a mate, & never even thought to check the head for meat  

I do like cod cheeks... we used to get them from the fish van in Sevenoaks. One day the fishmonger said he didnt have any cod cheeks but would I like skate knobs instead! I burst out laughing and thought he was having me on but they do exist! Love Lizzie

BB........cod is scaleless, they have a very smooth skin.

Lizzie......I too have had skate knobs and they are just as good as cod cheeks, very firm pieces of meat.

I normally cook them on the BBQ  with garlic, helped down with a nice light white wine on a summer evening  

When I lived in Norway we used to have cod tongues, delicious in a white wine sauce, but just as good simply fried in a bit of butter. You need big Atlantic cod for these so you don't see them in this country. Although there was one old fishmonger in Fleetwood who knew what they were, if you were to ask ask a fishmonger most other places they would think you were mad or taking the pee. Looking at the pictures it looks like the bit from the bottom of the mouth.

great post! I'm all for filleting out the cheeks- like mini scallops.

Bang on....... Robbery.

The two wedge pieces of meat at the top of skull is the same firm meat as the cheeks.

Flash fried, fresh crusty bread, tatar sauce and a good bottle of white wine .............fantastic

Very neat knife work, Border.  I wish my filleting skills were as good.

excellent instructions Border.  Not had cod cheeks but skate knobs are first choice with me when the fishmonger has them.  fantastic value, sucullent and excellent flavour - I like them deep fried in beer batter with a dipping sauce.

Thanks for all the positive comments  

Ruralidle wrote:
Very neat knife work, Border.  I wish my filleting skills were as good.

In my younger days I used to be a North Sea trawlerman, so I had to be pretty good with a knife, especially when we had anything from 5-10 tons of fish lying on the deck that needed gutting.

Being able to use a knife has put me in good stead when I butcher deer or pigs for the freezer.

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