My brother-in-law is an avid fisherman. Recently, on the Trout Opener, he caught his first Brook Trout. He gifted his prize to me to learn how to clean and fillet a fish and I enthusiastically accepted this little Brookie.
Brook trout are beautiful. Those little spots on her side were hot pink and the skin was as smooth and slippery as glass. And she was very small. I was getting very nervous that I had taken this on.
To fillet a fish you need a really sharp fillet knife and you need to be really careful. I have a thirty-year-old scar on my left index finger when the fillet knife I was using to open a box slipped. The knife was so sharp I didn’t even feel it cut, but it ended up requiring stitches. I’m a firm believer that a fillet glove is a good investment because it protects the hand holding the fish and it helps you hold on to the fish (A dry piece of paper towel also helps to hold onto the fish).
So, since I’d already proven I’m not very good at filleting cardboard boxes, and I’d never filleted a fish, the first thing I did was look for a video. I needed all the help I could get so that I wouldn’t be left with a shredded fish. Fortunately, I found this video: “How to Fillet a Trout.” I was very nervous watching his knife angles, but it added some suspense to watching.
I’m not squeamish, so gutting her wasn’t a problem for me. I saved the innards as a treat for a family of crows that visits our yard.
The filleting was not easy. The first side was a nightmare. The fish was so small that I felt like I was doing microsurgery. I was sure I had ruined the fish. But the second side went smoother. My brother-in-law told me later that that’s always the way, even when you know what you’re doing. It’s pretty easy to see in the photo which is the bad side. I’m looking forward to buying the giant-sized trout they sell at Costco. Those should be a piece of cake.
I decided the best way to prepare it was quickly and simply. I browned some butter, patted back together some of the shredded fish on the bad side, and quickly sauteed it. It was ready in just a couple of minutes. There were four of us, so we each took a fork and had a couple of mouthfuls each. I couldn’t believe how delicious it was. What an awesome treat!
My brother-in-law tells me Crappies are next. I think I’m ready.