Read our simple 6-step tutorial on how to scale and clean fish like a pro!
If you are a fish lover (or have a fish lover in your family) and frequent the wet market for your weekly supply of fresh fish and seafood like I do, then you probably already have a favourite fishmonger that you always patronise. I love making small talk with my regular fishmonger on topics ranging from the latest fishing news, which fish has become more expensive or cheaper, and even where to find the best budget Thai food in my neighbourhood! But when it comes to scaling and cleaning up the fresh fish you have just purchased, please don’t just rely on your fishmonger because much as they like you, they are usually so busy with other customers that they may not do a thorough job in scaling and cleaning the fish. Instead, simply follow these 6 easy steps to easily scale, clean and store your fish once you get home to retain maximum freshness and taste!
- Make sure all the fish scales are thoroughly removed – To do this, use the edge of a sharp knife to scale the fish in one direction from tail to head. Focus on the areas close to the fins of the fish, as well as around the cheek areas, which are more difficult to clean and are usually missed out by all but the most fastidious of fishmongers.
- Remove the gills, fish float, liver and all other visible organs and fats around the organs and any remnants thoroughly. This step is pretty obvious and self explanatory. But I should mention that it is important to do this BEFORE freezing the fish, otherwise the fish will have a fishy stale smell after it is cooked.
- Remove the blood clots along the spine of the fish. This is CRUCIAL but often overlooked step, because these blood clots are not immediately visible but hidden underneath a thick white membrane that covers the spine of the fish, so you may not have noticed them before until you read this article. The blood clots MUST be removed before freezing the fish, otherwise when you cook the fish, there will be a very unpleasant small of stale blood. To remove the blood clots along the spine, first use a sharp knife to slit open the white membrane covering the centre bone. You will then see a thick streak of blood clots running down the spine. Use the sharp tip of the knife to dig out and remove all the blood clots from the grooves of the centre bone. Once the blood clots have been loosened, open up the belly of the fish and carefully position only the exposed centre bone of the fish under running tap water to wash off all traces of the blood clot. As far as possible, be very careful to minimise the rest of the fish being in contact with the water, as I will explain in the next point.If you are cleaning a fish steak instead of a whole fish, the same step of removing the blood clots along the spine applies. For a fish steak, the blood clots along the spine are much more obvious as you can see in the photo below: the blood clot can be found just below the round circle (the spine of the fish).There is a little trick I love to use to get rid of the tiny blood clot – use a toothpick to gently pick out the blood clot. It should come out cleanly in one piece, so you won’t have to wash the fish steak before freezing it.
- Do not wash the whole fish before freezing it, otherwise when the fish is thawed, the water will draw out the sweetness from the fish, making the fish tasteless. Instead, wipe the surface of the fish with your hand to remove any loose scales, then pat dry with a kitchen towel.
- Vacuum pack the fish into a ziplock bag , squeezing out all excess air before sealing to retain freshness. Then freeze flat. If you don’t have ziplock bags, using cling film will also work (see example below). Once frozen, it is best to consume the fish within 2-3 weeks for maximum freshness.
- Finally, do remember to wash the fish only when you are about to cook it!
And there you have it – 6 simple steps to scale and clean fish! We hope that you have learnt something new from this article, and if you did, please take some time to leave us a comment below as we would love to hear from you!
If you enjoyed this tutorial on How to Scale and Clean Fish, do check out our growing collection of ‘How To’ tutorials!
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