How to Fillet a Round Fish

By: Helena Stallings, Culinary Arts Student A round fish by definition in culinary school is a fish that swims upright through...

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May 27, 2014 3 min read

By: Helena Stallings, Culinary Arts Student

A round fish by definition in culinary school is a fish that swims upright through the water, with eyes on either side of it’s head. In the case of stripped bass, the backbone and ribs run along the center of the fish and there is a fillet on both sides of the backbone. Some Chefs prefer to remove the sharp dorsal fins on the top of the fish with scissors, but it is purely preference. However if you do decide to leave the dorsal fins on, please be careful as they are quite sharp.

To start, make an incision just behind the side fin and gils, from the belly of the fish to the back bone. This is called the collar cut. Then slide your boning knife along the spine, all the way to the tail, keeping your knife flush against the backbone. Try to make long, smooth cuts along the backbone, because the meat is delicate and for presentation purposes, you will want to have a smooth fillet. Halfway down, you will feel the rib cage and you will have to angle your knife to go up and over the ribs. After you have done that, detach the fillet from the belly and remove the skin. You do so by making a small notch between the fillet and the skin. Hold your knife in the notch, at a 15 degree angle and slowly pull the skin toward you, holding the knife steady. Wiggle the skin back and forward, allowing the knife to do the work for you. When the skin is removed, check for any small bones or fat that needs to be cleaned up and begin your cooking preparations.

Simple Pan Seared Stripped Bass 
2 Bass Fillets
2 sprig Thyme
2 tbsp Butter
To Taste Salt & Pepper
1/2 Lemon, cut into wedges
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees

Season the fillets on both sides with salt and pepper, and heat your butter in medium saucepan. When your pan is really hot, sear your fillets on both sides. After both sides are seared, flip the fillets over to their presentation side, place 1 thyme sprig on each fillet and spoon a little butter over the fillets. Then place the pan in the oven and cook until the fillets internal temperature reaches 130 degrees. Pull from the oven and let rest for a few minutes before serving. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve with a wine wine or beurre blanc sauce.

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