Tips for Preparing Fish

Frozen Fish

Never ever cook a fish frozen or stone cold. If you tend to cook a fish you have just remove from the fridge, which is too cold, it will be cooked unevenly and a slightly longer time will be required to cooked it. Here is what you need to do for a frozen fish.

  1. Thaw the frozen fish in the chiller section of your fridge, might take a day or two.
  2. If you are in a hurry, defrost it with its original wrapping by submerging it into a bowl of water (room temperature, never use hot water). This method would limit the juice loss that would affect the loss of the fish original flavor.
  3. Make sure it is completely thawed.
  4. Roughly rinse with tap water, pat dry with paper towel and prepare for cooking.

Fresh Fish

Always ask the fishmonger to prepare it for you, as the descaling process tend to make a mess in your kitchen. Not to mention that even a few tiny bits of the scale will leave a fishy smell in your kitchen. However if you insist to prepare it on your own or someone gave you a beautiful fish that you will need to prepare on your own, here is how;

  • Descaling
descale fish

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  1. Descaling a fish will require a tool – fish descaler or some called it fish scaler. It can be a professional descaler tool or the back of the knife, a fork or a blunt knife.
  2. Hold the fish firmly with a piece of towel (prevent slip).
  3. Then remove the scales with the descaler at 45 degrees and moving it against the direction of the scale which is towards the direction of the head.
  4. If the fish is going to be cooked without the skin, descaling is not necessary.


trimmed fin fish

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Trimming the fish improve the overall presentation and also make it easier to be handle. Simply cut the fins with a pair of scissors. However do not over-trim the fish as the fins also works in holding the flesh of the fish together during cooking.


The best way to gut a fish is through its belly. Here is how with illustration. (Please note all the photos are outsource, hence the differences in the photos)

cleaning a fish

Gut the belly starting from its anus (Source :

gutting fish

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Cleaning fish gut

Detach the guts and remove them (Source :

cleaning fish gut

Remove the gills with a pair of scissors (Source :

how to gut a fish

Rince the cavity and scrape the inside (Source :


In order to have a clean fillet of fish, make sure your workstation is well cleaned and the fish is gutted.

  1. Rinse the fish well under running water, double check for unwanted matters – fish scales, guts, blood vessels in the guts, etc.
  2. Rest the fish on the chopping board.
  3. Cut along the middle of the back from tail to top of the head.
  4. Separate the flesh from the backbone by simply running your knife along the bone.

Here is a video of me filleting a grouper

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