Whole, cleaned fish

Using a Whole Fish

We try to order whole fish whenever possible. The outcome is a bunch of different cuts for different uses and dishes.

We ordered a 1.5 kilo Indian basa a few days ago, and cut it up into a bunch of different pieces for different purposes. In case you’re thinking this takes too much time, the whole process took me about 10 – 12 minutes.

  • Head – I don’t like the whole head much and usually keep it for stock. When done, and the head is scraped, quite a bit of extra skin and flesh can be retrieved for gravies or to mix with potatoes and make little fried patties or as a filling for pies etc.
  • Fillets – This is the area above and below the central bony section. We use it for boneless applications where hands aren’t used for eating. Can be used in gravies, grills, stir fries, deep fries etc.
  • Ribs section of fillets and tail – This is a semi circular section, at the front, lower end of the fish, ending just below the head. It has a row of thick bones and can be difficult to de-bone without a fair bit of trouble or making a mess of the piece. We use this for curries, grills and dishes where we use our hands to eat the food.
  • Carcass scrapings – When the fillets are separated from the bone, the choice is to make a cleaner cut, leaving less flesh on the bone but bits of bone in the fillet, or more flesh on the bone and clean boneless fillets. I choose to keep my fillets smooth and scrape off the flesh with fingers/knife and use it for sandwiches, burgers, scrambled with eggs etc.
  • Carcass – This is always reserved for stock and boiled with the head. There’s usually some fat at the edges that I prefer keeping for the nutritional value add.

Using a whole fish will not only cost you less as well as possibly reduce waste on the part of the producer, but you’ll also have a bunch of different parts with different tastes, textures and culinary uses.