How to Clean & Fillet a Bluefish

How to Clean & Fillet a Bluefish

The bluefish is a fantastic food fish that is found in the temperate and subtropical waters. The bluefish is also commonly known as chopper among fishers. This fish has gotten this name as it is a fierce fighter, and you can understand this by looking at its sharp teeth. It is especially common in Australia, New Zealand as well as South Africa. People who consume these fish enjoy it in many different ways. You can bake it, poach it, broil it, or even smoke the fish. If you want, you can also turn the fish into a pate. 

This fish is extremely versatile and comes in many different sizes and weights. The ones which are the biggest are called horses as they can weigh more than 10 pounds. These big ‘horse’ can be close to 40 pounds as well. The medium-sized ones which are available in the market can range from anywhere between 3 to 5 pounds. The ones known as snappers are the smallest kind, and they are less than 2 pounds. To learn more of the basic details about bluefish, check out NOAA Fisheries.

The bluefish is known to be quite notorious for getting rancid pretty quickly as it is a fatty fish. Do not keep the fish stored for too long. Consume it as fast as possible. Bluefish is not very expensive, and if you want, you can consume its skin as well. 

Prep the fish: How to Clean & Fillet a Bluefish

The following steps will help you handle the fish and prep it before you cook the fish. If you do not clean and feel the fish properly, you won’t be able to enjoy your meal. Follow the steps correctly, and you will get brilliant pieces of bluefish for your fantastic feast.  

1. Handling the Fish

To enjoy any fish properly, you must be well equipped to clean the fish and fillet it. You are excellent skills should be on point. You do not want to waste any part of the fish and also keep the hygienic standards high. Fish is a very delicate meat, and without the proper cleaning as well as filleting techniques, you can destroy it. Cleaning a bluefish requires knowledge without which the fish can quickly turn rancid and inedible. 

Just catching the fish is not enough. Having proper cleaning and filleting skills is what will let you enjoy your meal. As soon as the blue fishes are caught, you need to put them on a bed of ice. You can also put it in a life well, but constructing one is not always feasible. Having large ice blocks is perfect as it keeps the fish fresh. It stops the rotting process. 

2. Choosing a Comfortable Surface

The fish must be placed at a comfortable height so that you do not strain yourself when filleting it. You must be able to enjoy the entire process. You may go for a wood table, but stainless steel one is better as it is easier to maintain. You should keep the fish on the ice block during the whole filleting process. This makes sure that the fish is fresh for as long as possible. Clean and start filleting the fish as fast as possible. 

3. Keeping Your Workstation Organized

Your workstation should be appropriately arranged, and everything must be within an arm’s reach. In front of your workstation, keep the bluefish that you have got inside the ice bucket. Besides that, place two more buckets. One should be filled with ice for the fillets, and others should be empty. 

The empty bucket will be utilized to dispose of the carcass. You may line the bucket with a disposable sheet to make the cleaning process more manageable. You must also keep hose ready. This host should be in the shower setting. This is the best setting for cleaning the fish thoroughly. Also, the shower setting works well in cleaning the workbench after you have completed your task. Hygiene standards must be set very high when handling fish. 

4. Filleting the Bluefish – (How to) Step-by-Step Guide

This is the trickiest part. Of course, practice makes perfect, and even if you do not get it on the first try, do not give up. Filleting a fish does take some time to learn, but this does not mean that you cannot do it. To fillet a bluefish, follow our recommended steps:

  1. Choose any one bluefish from your icey water bucket and place it in your table. The fish must lie horizontally in front of you. 
  2. Keep the fish very close to you. Do not be afraid of splattering juices. If you place the fish far away from your body, you will not get as much control as you want. 
  3. Locate the gills of the fish and wrap your fingers around the head close to it. Do not go close to its mouth as they have quite sharp teeth. When you place your hands around the gills, you will find that it is a perfect vantage point. Select a nice and sharp filleting knife. Do spend some extra money on the special knife as it will go a long way. You can just buy a knife sharpener, and these two will be a fantastic investment. You will find that the filleting knife moves like water, and you would not have to exert any pressure at all to get the perfect piece. 
  4. Hold the knife at a 45-degree angle behind the front fin of the bluefish. Press down on the fish until you can feel the skeleton with the knife. You need to turn the blade then. It should lie just above the skeleton. With the steady hand, make a continuous horizontal slice till the tail. The knife should glide over the skeleton. Be as close to the dorsal side, and be sure not to puncture into the stomach. 
  5. Remove the portion of the fact that you have cut out and turned the fish over. You need to the entrance of the blood. Clean the word station as well to get rid of any blood spatter or slime. Place the fillet on the table. Ensure that the skin of the fish is down if you want, you can also put the fillet that you have carved out inside the other ice bucket. You can remove the skin afterward. 
  6. Now move on to the other side of the fish. Hose down the work area again. Then you need to repeat the process on this site as well. Carefully remove the carcass and place it in the designated bucket. You can use this card cause for crabbing purposes in the Bay area. 
  7. Make sure that the skin does not touch the flesh of the fish. You must also check that the field is clean and there is not even a single droplet of blood on the meat. This will ensure that your fish does not turn rancid. 
  8. Now comes the skin removing part. Again you need to spray the table clean, place bluefish on the skin side. Hold the meat carefully. Start to make an incision between the flesh and skin. You must be able to hold onto the flesh as you are removing it from the skin. You have to pull the flash in the opposite direction to the motion of the knife. The nice should move horizontally in a continuous motion so that the skin comes off smoothly.
  9. Remove the skin and throw it in the carcass bucket. Clean the word station so that no fish scale remains on top of it. Then, repeat the process for the other fillet. 


Thus, you can see that filleting a bluefish is not a difficult task. You will be able to do it by yourself in no time. Just follow the steps carefully and keep the fish clean. Soon you will be able to get brilliant fillet with which you can prepare your favorite bluefish dish. 

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