When it comes to table fish any where in Australia many anglers, including yours truly, believe that flathead is among the best. It has a beautiful coarse flesh and a ‘mild’ flavour. It’s hard to find anybody who doesn’t love flattie tails. Let’s have a look at a quick and easy way of preparing and filleting flathead.
As with any fish you intend to keep for the table, dispatch it as soon as it’s landed. I normally use a brain spike made from a sharpened Phillips head screwdriver, or a reasonably strong bladed knife, and drive it through the head of the fish directly between the eyes. As always, any fish that is put out of its misery as quick as possible is not only humane, but also improves the flavour on the plate. Straight after the fish is dispatched it should be placed in the icebox or esky.
First thing to do back at the cleaning table is to rinse and wipe off as much slime from the fish as possible. You’ll see why in Step 5.
Using a very sharp, good quality filleting knife, make the first incision directly behind the pectoral fin, then run the knife along the backbone towards the tail. Don’t take the entire fillet off; stop about 20mm short of the tail. Now this method of filleting flathead involves no scaling. Most anglers hate scaling fish and there are easier, quicker and less messy ways of getting rid of fish scales.
Flip the fillet (that has almost been cut off) over so that the skin side is facing down then gently work the edge of the knife between the skin and the flesh, getting as close to the skin as possible.
Once you have the knife in position between the skin and the flesh, angle it at about 30, hold it firmly, then pull the frame of the fish away from the blade. The fillet should come away easily leaving very little flesh on the skin. This is why you needed to wash off the excess slime from the fish before you start – so you could get a good grip on it during this step.
To remove the rib cage work the edge of the knife along the lateral line of the fillet, just above the ribs and when you reach the end of the rib cage, cut straight down (to what would have been the under side of the fish) and remove the entire rib cage.
A quick wipe down and voila! Flathead fillets ready for the table.Reads: 14159