I’ve always wanted the knife skills and abilities of a high class fish monger. Thus, I decided to give filleting at home a try. I went down to the Maine Avenue fish markets in DC (all you DC people know the chaotic bliss that this involves). After casing the joint over and over, I decided to buy 2 medium red snappers and one medium sized blue fish. All that for $13. Not bad.
Once I get these little guys home, I pulled out a knife and went to town. The snapper were cleaned already, so my work involved scaling the fish and cutting out the fillets. If only it were that easy…
Next, I moved on to the blue fish. I pretty much mutilated this little guy. He wasn’t cleaned / gutted, so I had to do the dirty work myself. This ended up in me mixing guts with good fish while furiously scraping with a spoon. In the end, I ended up with a piece of fish that looked like it got run over by a truck.
In the end, I learned the following things.
- Buy fish whole. It’s much cheaper (if you can get it).
- Have a sharp fillet knife. I don’t. I couldn’t skin the fillets because of this. Nor could I make pretty cuts. I did everything with my 7″ Santoku knife. Not a good choice.
- Have a professional clean them for you. Not necessarily a pro, but at least someone with some skill.
In the end, things turned out ok. Margaret roasted the fillets in the oven with shallot, seasonings, and olive oil. It was served with some farmer’s market loot, fresh swiss chard (yum!) and summer squash (chard was sauteed – with the stems – squash roasted). It was probably one of the freshest meals I’ve had in a long, long time. Definitely worth the extra effort. Pictures for your eyes…