Reef fishfilleting
  |  First Published: May 2015

Lynn shows how to fillet a typical reef fish using a long fillet knife.


Start with a gutted fish: insert the knife into the vent and run the knife’s cutting edge back towards the tail. Make sure your knife is cutting just above the anal fin.


When you get to the tail, cut straight across.


Then proceed to run the knife’s cutting edge up along the dorsal (above the fin) all the way to the head of the fish. This cut separates the flesh (fillet) from the backbone.


Cut the fillet away from the fish’s head and gill plate. This cut should go all the way from top (nape) to chin on the fish and be deep enough to go all the way through to the backbone.


Run the knife along the dorsal again, this time cutting deeper, cut all the way to (but not into) the rib cage.


Cut from the tail, parallel to the backbone (frame) all the way to the rib cage. Then carefully run the blade of the knife over the top of the rib cage in order to separate the fillet from the bones of the rib cage.


Turn the fish over and repeat the process on the other side.


To skin the fillet, place the fillet skin side down and push the knife edge down into the flesh and along, but do not cut into the skin.


To remove the pin bones cut one stroke on each side of the pin bones and remove the triangular wedge of flesh.


500g of reef fish fillets; skinned and bones removed

1 cup plain flour

1 cup cornflour

2 egg whites

120mls water

Canola oil, for frying

To cook the fish (a basic shallow fry):

Cut the fish fillets into palm-sized pieces.

Sift the plain flour and cornflour together into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the egg whites and water. Beat until a smooth batter.

Heat the canola oil in a heavy-based frying pan until just smoking. Dip each piece of fish into the batter, draining off any excess batter. Place the fish into the hot oil. Fry until the fish is golden brown on one side (the downward side). Turn and cook on the other side. The frying time will depend on the thickness of the fish. When cooked, remove the fish from the pan and drain on paper towel.

To serve, place the golden fish onto a platter of lightly steamed Asian greens and spoon over the spicy sauce.

Sauce Ingredients

1 tablespoon canola oil

2cm fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated

4 cloves garlic, finely grated

60mls tomato puree or passata (use tomato sauce in a pinch)

60mls chilli jam or 100ml chilli sauce

1 teaspoon sugar (optional)

2 tablespoons Lee Kum Kee soy sauce

1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine (or dry white wine)

1-2 tablespoons water

To make the sauce:

Put the canola oil, grated ginger, garlic, tomato puree and chilli jam in a small saucepan. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for only one minute. Add the sugar (if using), soy sauce, Chinese cooking wine (or alternative) and water. The amount of water that you use is dependent on how thick you like your sauce.

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