art of filleting
Keen to impress your friends with some culinary knife skills? Lim from Fishmaster shares her top 5 steps for filleting a fish like a pro – and it’s easier than you think.
Published 10 October

Though it’s delicious at all year round, fresh fish makes particularly good eating as the weather starts to warm up. High in omega-3 fatty acids, this super-healthy brain food can be baked, steamed, pan-fried or even thrown on the barbie. 

Curious to learn the secrets of filleting, we caught up with Lim from Fishmaster to find out her pro tips for filleting like a pro. Turns out, it’s actually pretty fun. 

While you can scale and gut the fish yourself at home using a spoon and a sharp knife, Lim and her fellow Fishmaster crew are happy to do it for you (bonus points for less clean-up). To successfully fillet your fish, make sure you use a super sharp pointy-ended filleting knife (about 15-20 centimetres in length, depending on the size of your fish. Bigger fish? Longer knife). If you don’t have one handy, the knife you use to trim meat will do – just make sure it’s sharp.

Step 1: Cut behind the gills on head

Place the fish on a chopping board with the belly facing you and head to the left (place head to the right if you’re a left-hander). Next, pull the fin outwards and make a cut behind to separate the fins from the fillet. Then cut behind the head until you hit the bone.

Step 2: Cut along the spine

Rotate the fish so that the spine now faces you (and the belly faces away from you). Starting from the cut at the head, cut alone the spine from head to tail, along the length of the fillet. Angling your knife towards the bones, keep running along where the flesh meets the bones to open up the fillet. You should feel your knife reach the raised spine in the middle.

Step 3: Remove the fillets

Hold the knife flat against the backbone of the fish, and push the point through the other side of the fillet. Pressing the knife against the spine, cut all the way to the tail and separate it from the rest of the fish. Turn the fish so the belly faces you again and lift to expose the ribs. Cut (or snip with scissors) through the ribs up to the first cut. You can now remove the first fillet. Flip the fish and repeat for the second fillet.

Step 4: Make no Bones About it

Now it’s time to remove the bones. Using a small knife, run the tip of the blade under the rib bones and cut towards the pin bones, then through them to free the ribs. Turn the knife the other way and cut up and against the ribs, gently peeling away and slicing.

Step 5: Annnnd Action! Time to Cook

Remove the pin bones with tweezers, then trim the edges of the fillets. Your fish is now ready to cook and enjoy!