While you may have big dinner plans for the fish you just brought home, those plans are going to have to be put on hold until your fish is cleaned. So whether you’ve just caught your fish or you’re bringing something fresh home from the market, you always want to be sure to always clean your fish before eating it.

The reason you want to make sure you follow the correct steps when cleaning up your fish is to avoid the number of health issues you can encounter if you consumer improperly clean fish. Now if you’re new to the fish cleaning game, it’s not as hard as you may think, but it sure can get messy, so you’re going to want to be prepared for that part! But once your fish is clean, you can start preparing your fish dinner.

Are you ready? Let’s get started with your go-to plan for properly cleaning a fish.

What You Need to Properly Clean a Fish

Having the right tools is half the battle when it comes to cleaning a fish. Here’s what you want to have handy:

  • Bucket
  • Newspaper
  • Sharp filet kitchen knife
  • Scaling tool or butter knife
  • Cutting board
  • Dish for clean fish
  • Disposable gloves (optional)

Once you have all your tools ready to go, it’s time to get cleaning!

How to Properly Clean a Fish Step by Step

One of the most important things to know about cleaning a fish is that you want to do it as soon as possible. This will ensure that your fish is as fresh as possible.

Follow this step by step guide to get started!

  1. Put the fish on the cutting board. You can put newspaper around the cutting board, so you don’t get anything on your counter.
  2. Put the tip of the knife into the fish’s belly. Move the blade along the belly, cutting all the way to the head. Be sure to keep the blade shallow so you don’t puncture the intestines.
  3. Spread the body open.
  4. Remove all of the entrails (this is the messy part). You don’t want to leave anything inside. Pull out everything until you only see the flesh. It’s best to put these all in a bucket so you can toss them easily when you’re done.
  5. Locate the fish’s anus and cut it out in a “V” shape.
  6. Rinse the cavity with a steady stream of water.
  7. Wash the skin. If your fish has a dark tissue lining the abdominal cavity, it can be scraped off to prevent a strong flavor.
  8. At this point, you can remove the head if you like.
  9. Place the clean fish in a dish.
  10. Clean your area thoroughly and throw away any remnants right away.
  11. Now it’s time to get cooking!

Other than knowing how to properly clean a dish, if your fish has scales or is extra large, you may want to take the time to filet and skin it. At the end of the day, this will make it easier to cook. 

The Best Way to Remove Scales from Your Fish

You can easily get the scales off the back of your fish with a knife. Start with the tail and scrape the back of the knife along the whole length of the fish until you get to the head. Repeat until all of the scales flake off. Once you’re done, repeat the same thing on the other side. But be sure to wash the fish thoroughly once you’re done removing all the scales to wash away any remaining toxins.

Also, if you’re not going to eat your fish right after you clean it, you’ll want to ensure you freeze it properly. This will help to keep it fresh for when you are going to cook it.

Fresh Fish at NC Seafood

Not sure that you’re ready to take on the task of preparing fresh seafood for yourself? Anytime you’re in the mood for something tasty and freshly prepared head on over to NC Seafood at the Farmer’s Market in Raleigh. We have several mouth-watering plates to try for lunch or dinner every day of the week. Check out our menu and order online for pick-up. Come visit us today!