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How to fillet a flat fish

11 July 2016

How to fillet a flat fish

Flat fish commonly found at the fishmonger include plaice, lemon sole, brill and the highly prized turbot. A flat fish has four fillets unlike a round fish, which only has two.

Always use a sharp, flexible knife to get as close to the bone as possible.


Make an incision with the point of the knife below the head and cut down towards the backbone, then continue cutting down the length of the fish and through the tail
Make a cut below the head diagonally from the backbone to separate the fillet
Separate the flesh from the bones by inserting the point of knife into the cut below the head and sliding the knife along the bone with a long, gentle stroking motion
Lift the fillet from the middle as you continue the stroking motion, cutting away from you to remove the first fillet – you should be able to hear and feel the knife moving against the bones
Turn the fish around and repeat on the other side of the backbone to remove the second fillet, cutting a diagonal line below the head then inserting the point of the knife from the tail end and gently following along the line of the bones to remove the fillet
Turn the fish over and repeat this process on the other side, cutting along the backbone and under the head
Use stroking motions along each side of the backbone to remove the third and fourth fillets
Trim the edges to neaten the fillets – these can now be skinned and cooked as required

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