[Sca-cooks] Deboning Fish

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Tue Nov 25 04:07:29 PST 2008

On Nov 25, 2008, at 2:37 AM, Stefan li Rous wrote:

> Folks might also be interested in this article:
> fish-cleaning-art (10K)  4/29/06    "Amra's Capsule of Cleaning, For  
> Freshwater
>                                       Fish, Intended for Beginners"  
> by Amra.
> I'm not sure how cleaning saltwater fish varies from this. This file  
> is in the ANIMALS section of the Florilegium.

In general, there's no difference between fresh and saltwater fish, a  
least no difference imparted by the salinity of habitat, and I think  
that's a good article.

There are, however, two or three, or maybe more, basic skeletal  
structures you're going to run across when dealing with fish. Luckily,  
most of what you're likely to see nowadays is a pretty basic cross- 
shaped cross-section, giving the diner two or four sections of  
boneless filet, depending on how it's done. A flatfish is generally  
the same as a round fish (I mean in cross-section, Stefan ;-) ), just  
with that roundish cross-section stretched into an ellipse or oblong  
diamond shape.

Then you've got some weird bone structures in fish like shad and pike;  
they don't follow that basic cross-shaped skeletal cross-section: both  
have those side pinbones that were mentioned in connection with salmon  
cleaning, but for some fish   like the two mentioned above those bones  
are shaped like the letter "Y", and in some cases there are two rows  
instead of one. In pike and their close relatives like muskellunge  
there's also an odd boneless section behind the head [spine and ribs,  
yes, but no vertical dorsal bones, so you cut horizontally along the  
spine for the length of the rib cage, until you get to the dorsal fin,  
and remove a rectangular flap like a hat from above the rib cage, then  
proceed to remove the rib meat as you normally would]. Behind the rib  
cage things are more "normal", but overall a pike is unusual in that  
it gives you five pieces of filleted meat.

For those that may be saying, well, I don't need to know this since  
I'm serving the fish whole, I can only say that the servers or people  
at the table might need to know how to dismantle the fish without  
giving each diner a mouthful of bones. In general it's unlikely that  
anybody's going to choke on a bone that's small enough and flexible  
enough not to be noticed while chewing, but it can make the experience  
of eating the fish less enjoyable.


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