Trout can be prepared in several ways. Some prefer baking or grilling trout, while others (including us) love roasting the fish. Others also take pride in having the tastiest fried trout recipes. Regardless of the trout recipe you plan to use, you’ll have to debone the fish first. In this article, we’ll guide you through the process on how to fillet a trout fish so it’s easier and quicker for you to appreciate your catch and enjoy it in a dish.
Best Ways to Fillet a Trout
Good news, there’s no need for you to acquire advanced skills to fillet rainbow trout or any of the other trout species.
Just remember the tips below and you’ll quickly realize it’s actually easy to learn and master.
Standard with Skin On
Filleting a brown trout is a lot easier if you use a newly sharpened filleting knife, but you can also use any knife that you already have such as a boning or butcher knife.
The added benefit of using a filleting knife for filleting trout is that you end up with a nicer, more economical set of cuts.
Remove the Head
Start the process by carefully removing the fish head. The blade has to be angled towards your catch’s head rather than its body so you retain most of the meat.
Make an incision on the fish past the pectoral fins and gills until you hit its spine. Then, apply a good amount of pressure on the knife so you can cut through its bone. Don’t forget to remove any innards.
Fillet the Fish
Then, fillet the whole fish or make several crosscut steaks. If you want to make steaks, cut through the trout about 1.5 inches thick.
A crosscut steak has a nice presentation, plus it’s great for grilling or baking. The bones and the skin will help ensure the fish doesn’t fall apart.
To fillet, run the boning knife on the spine above the fish’s dorsal fin. Go all the way to its tail. Make sure you cut along the ribs so the fillet is off the bone.
Do the Same Thing on the Other Side
Set aside the fillet, then flip the fish and repeat the same process on the other side. If you run a finger along the fillet’s middle section from the head down to the end, you’ll feel tiny bones.
These bones should be plucked by hand. A large set of tweezers will work best for the task.
There are many ways you can fillet a trout boneless. Although it’s not the commonly used method, butterflying trout is a great way to debone your catch, especially if it’s a sizable one. If you want to learn a unique way to gut and fillet this fish, we suggest you try it.
Instead of taking fillets from the backbone, bone is taken from the fish. Butterflying trout results in a single fillet per fish instead of two.
Trim the Fins
To start, take the fish, remove its head and trim the fins. You have the option of retaining or removing the skin. On one side, use your knife to cut into the trout’s flesh on the “top” edge.
Cut the Rib Bones
Lift the flesh gently using one hand, then cut along the rib bones up to the edge. Make sure you don’t cut all the way, and then repeat on the other side.
Take a pair of scissors so you can snip the backbone from the trout’s head and tail. While holding the flesh, take out the pin bones on all sides.
Put the Fillet Aside
Lastly, lift the backbone gently at the tail so you can start putting away from the fillet or flesh. What you’re left with is a beautiful trout butterfly fillet!
Dos and Don’ts for Filleting Trout
Utilizing proper techniques for preparing fish is essential not only for seafood chefs but anglers as well.
Here are some do’s and don’ts to ensure you a safe, simple, and more enjoyable fish filleting experience:
Avoid the Trout Mouth
Trout have large vomerine teeth which are on the roofs of their mouths. They also have smaller teeth along their jawlines.
These sets of teeth are incredibly sharp and they can most definitely hurt. Perhaps it’s common sense not to stick your fingers in their mouth, but a lot of people actually make this mistake while filleting fish.
Always pay extra attention as to where your hands or fingers are throughout the process. This includes when you’re scaling, cleaning, and filleting trout. You’ll be handling sharp kitchen tools, so it’s best to take your time with the process.
Never Use a Dull Knife
A sharp knife will require less pressure when you’re cutting into the meat. This reduces the likelihood of the knife slipping, plus you’ll have more control over the blade.
Dull knives also produce jagged fillets, which you wouldn’t want if you care about the appearance of your trout. A sharp blade will reduce the chances of injury while filleting and produce cleaner and more beautiful fillets of trout.
Gut the Fish
Don’t let the intestinal contaminants stay in the fish for an extended period of time. Fish guts deteriorate at a much faster rate, which spoils the fish when it’s processed incorrectly.
Gut the fish soon after you catch it and wash its cavity in ice-cold water. This will remove bacteria present in the fish. Afterward, bury the fish in an ice slurry to deter any bacterial growth.
Contrary to popular belief, deboning and filleting trout is actually very simple! You can make the task easier with the use of a sharp knife and a pair of kitchen scissors. Invest in a quality filleting or boning knife if you’ll be making your own fillets from now on.
It’s also going to help if you are extra careful when holding the fish. Only apply the right amount of pressure, otherwise, you’ll have a messy fillet.