So, you just got your delivery of whole snapper or grouper. Are you thinking about what way to prepare your fish? How about baked or grilled fillet? It’s the easiest way to make sure you get a most meat, flaky, tender, and amazing entrée.
And we’re going to teach you how to fillet a fish, in an easy step-by-step process. In this example, we’re filleting a beautiful red grouper. Now, when it comes to filleting a fish, 90% of them will have the same process – they are mostly consisting of just a couple of cuts.
Watch our ‘How To Fillet a Grouper’ video
What You Will Need:
The first thing you’ll need is a space (a countertop or table) big enough to let you work on your fish. We also recommend that you use a chain mesh glove. This will prevent you from cutting yourself. You will use this in your non-knife holding hand.
Of course, you will need to pick out your knives. People have different preferences when it comes to what knives they want to use for filleting. But you will mostly see people use a thin filleting knife. This is a very flexible one.
In this step-by-step instruction, however, we’re going to use a set of two knives. One is a boning knife. It’s made by Victorinox and has a round shape at the tip. The other is a slicing knife which is also very flexible.
Before we begin, we’ll first need to remove the Gulf Wild tracking tag which we here at Wild Seafood Market apply to every fish we catch and supply.
Fish/Grouper Filleting Instructions:
The first step is to run your knife directly down the dorsal fin. Make sure that your knife is following the bones on the backside of the fish.
The next cut you’re going to make is right behind the fish’s gill. Cut across all the way down to the belly.
Now, with most fish, these are the cuts that you need to make. Some exceptions are flounder and tunas where you must make a few other cuts.
In the next step, you should split the open side of the fish just a little bit with your thumb so you can see what you’re doing next. You will need to run the knife right across the bone.
As you’re doing that, you’ll feel your knife run across it (the bone). You need to cut all the way down to the spine.
Next, you’re going to move your knife over the spine and run down the bone over the bottom (tail) side as well.
At this point, a lot of people just cut straight down. However, you will lose a pretty large portion of the fish’s belly meat if you do it like that. Instead, you should split the pin bone section and run your knife all the way down to the rib cage. You’d be able to save all the belly meat this way.
And you end up with your fillet.
Now, at this point, you will have a skin-on fillet. If you like cooking with the skin on, make sure to scrape all the scales before you start filleting. You can use your favorite scaler or even just the backside of your knife.
But, since we want a skin off fillet, we’re going to flay this grouper’s skin. This is where your more flexible knife comes in. You can use a skinning knife or a traditional fillet knife – the procedure will be the same.
In removing the skin, you will start cutting right at the tail and cut down. But remember not to cut through the skin. Then, turn the knife parallel to the skin.
The last thing you need to do for the first fillet is to trim it up. There’s a strip of bones through the middle of that filled called the pin bone section. You have to cut just on either side of that and discard the chunk as well.
What you’re left with this side is a boneless, skinless fillet.
Now, moving on the second side. It’s going to be a lot easier to start towards the tail portion instead of the head on this side. This is because the fish is now laying a little bit flatter on the table.
Start cutting at the tail portion. And just like what you did on the other side, let your knife run directly across the bones.
Make your second cut across the gills.
And then finish filleting the fish out by running the knife right down the bone, over the spine. Get the bottom section.
Same thing as what you did on the other side, pop the pin bones. Let your knife run straight down the rib cage. And there’s your other fillet.
Now in most fish, especially in grouper, there’s an extra piece of meat which is called the grouper cheek. Start cutting just in front of where the cheek bone sticks out.
Next, cut at a downward angle, straight up under the jaw. Flip the cheek meat over, slice away from the skin and peel. And you end up with some nice grouper cheek. Do this on both sides.
So, what you’re left with is basically a fish carcass. Some people will take and boil them as fish stock. Some people will roast this whole and pick the meat away. Most anglers and fishermen prefer to use them as bait for crabs.
Now, go ahead and skin the second fillet. Just like the first one, remove the pin bones. And, you now have 2 fillets and 2 cheeks.
You can now store your fillets in the freezer if you’re not using them yet. Or you can cook them right away with any method you prefer. Bake, grill, or fry them away!
At Wild Seafood, we bag these fillets including the tag so you can look up where the fish is caught and what vessel it came off. And if you like grouper fillets like these, you can go on our website and order yours. Just request that it be filleted with skin off and we’ll send you some beautiful fillets just like this.