When cleaning fish it’s important to decide if you will scale or skin the fish as well as choosing to fillet the fish or simply gut and remove the head, tail and fins. Smaller fish may not be suited for filleting but most larger fish can easily be filleted in order to provide high quality boneless meals. Skinning the fish and trimming any dark meat can further raise the quality of your meal.
Prior to filleting fish, select the proper knives and check their edge. Sharpen and clean the blade if needed. For very large fish, a thick blade may be necessary to cut the skin. Once the tough outer skin is cut, it may be necessary to switch to a flexible fillet knife. Never use a knife to scale fish, instead use a fish scaler or an old kitchen knife that is dull and no longer useful for cutting.
These pages have specific tutorials and other information on cleaning fish, shellfish and other seafood:
Cleaning and Filleting Flounder
Cleaning and Filleting Tautog
Cleaning Black Drum Fish
Cleaning Scaling and Gutting Pan Fish
Fillet Knives and Other Kitchen Accessories
Freezing Fish and Other Seafood