Monday, April 16, 2012

Here Fishy Fishy!

I absolutely LOVE fresh fish.  I guess part of the reason is that I grew up near the water and it was always available to us.  As a result, I also learned at an early age how to clean and scale a fish.

I live in a retirement community now, and one of my neighbors has a grandson who fishes regularly.
When he gets an extra or two, he always calls and asks if I would like one.  I never say no.  He knows that I know how to clean the fish, so I always get it scales on and guts in!

One time when I was out at the store, I told my hubby (who grew up in Pittsburgh and until he met me thought the only kind of fish there was was fish sticks!) that the neighbor was going to be calling about some fish he had for me.  Well, while I was out the neighbor actually did call him to come and pick up the fish.  When he got there the man asked him if he was going to clean it for me.
My husband gave him an appalled look and explained that he didn't have a clue what to do with it.
The neighbor said, "Oh, come on out back and I'll show ya'."
"Thanks Bob," Kevin replied "but I'll just wait for Linda to come back."  The neighbor laughed and called him a lazy city slicker!  Too funny!

Yesterday, my neighbor Bob called again with a nice large bass for me.  As usual, it needed to be cleaned and scaled.  My only dilemma now is that because I live here in the retirement community I do not have a great place to do this.  One time I attempted to do it at my kitchen sink...MISTAKE!  I had scales positively everywhere...I mean those things can land on the ceiling.

So, now I proceed outside on a planter box with the hose running on low and a large plastic tray and a stainless pan.  Here are some simple instructions on this if you would like to try it!  Oh come on, you may not be perfect the first time, but the results are truly worth it.

1.  You will want to do this outside, or in a place where you can clean up easily -- scales will fly everywhere. I learned this the hard way.
2.  The easiest tool to scale a fish is a butter knife. They make special scalers, but you don't need one.
3.  Start scaling your fish by holding it firmly with one hand and scraping from tail to head with the knife.

4.  Make sure you get the scales on the top of the fish and near the fins -- and don't forget the tail.
Don't forget the collar of the fish! It is often the tastiest part, but you wouldn't want a mouth full of scales when you bite into it, would you? (you can cut the head off after scaling if you prefer to, but believe me, you will be wasting some very tasty fish if you do.

5.  You start the gutting process by slipping the tip of your fillet knife into the vent and slicing upwards -- away from the fish, and away from the guts -- toward the head.
You complete the cut by forcing the knife through the bony portion that lies between the pelvic fins (the ones that are paired up on the belly of the fish) and on up to the base of the lower jaw.
6.  You remove the guts by reaching in and grabbing them right at the base of the head, where you will feel everything connect. Pinch that spot and pull the whole lot out. On large fish you will have to cut this with your knife -- be careful you don't cut yourself!
7.  At this point you can scrape out the liver, which is attached to the backbone of the fish, and cut out what remains of the swim bladder, which is a whitish sac that also attaches itself to the cavity.
8.  The gills will impart a bitter flavor to your fish, and will make it spoil faster, so they need to go. You can most easily do this by cutting them where they attach at either end of the arc that they form. I use kitchen shears, but you could use your knife. On small fish, you can just rip them out.
Once the attachments are cut, you can remove the gills easily.
9.  Now wash the scaled, gutted fish well in ice-cold water, then pack on a bed of crush ice until you're ready to cook it.
10.  OR if you are not going to cook the fish immediately, put your cleaned and scaled fish in a large container and fill it with water and place in the freezer.  Fish will keep for MONTHS frozen in water like this and taste just as delicious without any freezer damage.

You can cook your fish however, you like, but I love to bake them .... here is a simple recipe for doing just that!


  • Baking is a particularly easy way to prepare fish.
  • To bake fish, preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  • Rinse fish under cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Lightly oil a shallow baking dish and place fish skin side down.
  • Season as desired.
  • Bake 6 to 12 minutes per inch thickness. Add 5 minutes to total cooking time if fish is being baked in a thick sauce or wrapped in foil. 
So, with Summer almost here and the fishing is fine, get out there and get yourself a fish or two or more!  And, just n case all this cleaning and scaling sounds like a bit much for you, find a great fish market and have them prepare it for's definitely good eating.

Here's to healthy eating! Eat more Fish!

God Bless...Peace, Love and Joy!

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