Here's The Proper Way To Scale And Clean Fresh Fish

As the old saying goes, give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Still, the proverb didn't take into account the prep work that needs to happen if you don't want to go hungry. There's a little bit of work that needs to be done after you catch your prized sea creature before you can enjoy the fruits of your labor. And don't be fooled: It can be fishy business when it comes time to scale and clean your seafood. We're talking scales taking flight across the room, sticking to everything, and of course the smell. But we've got you covered.

According to The Spruce Eats, to scale your fishy friend, you are going to want to raid your silverware drawer for a butter knife and get a pair of kitchen shears. The first thing you want to do is clip off the fins with the shears, which will ultimately make scaling easier and safer. You want to cut as close to the body as possible and use a little extra care with the dorsal fin – the one located along the backbone. The bones inside the dorsal fin can be pretty spiny and might injure you if not removed before scaling. Once you've cut the fins off, it's time to grab your butter knife and start scaling.

Scaling and Cleaning

You're going to want to do the scaling over the sink, preferably one that is fairly deep for easy cleanup. Alternatively, per the Los Angeles Times blog, you can place the fish and your arms in a large trash bag, covering them while you scale. In a Youtube video, Chef Eric Crowley says that to begin scaling, you hold the fish by its tail. Using a paper towel may help you grip the fish. Place the dull side of the butter knife underneath the scales, and start flicking them off from the tail to the head. The Los Angeles Times cautions that pressing too hard can bruise the flesh. You'll know your mission is complete when you rub your fingers over the fish, and it doesn't feel stubbly.

Now, you are ready to clean your fish. This is easily the grossest part of prepping your seafood. You're going to need your kitchen scissors. The Spruce Eats says to start cutting at the point where the gill and lower jaw come together. Next, place the tip of your scissors in the hole in the fish's belly called the vent, and cut until you've slit open the fish's belly. Then, you want to slice through the tissue attaching the upper gills and the body. Finally, grab the gills and pull them in a downward motion, taking all of the internal organs with them. Bon appetit.