How to Clean Sunfish
Before we get into actually cleaning the fish, take a look at the tools we will need. First, we need a cutting board to hold the fish. I use an old commercial board with a spring clip. Then we need a sharp knife. For the small fish I use a 4-inch blade Rapala knife. For larger fish a 6-inch blade is useful. Then you will need a bowl of clean ice water for the cleaned fish and a bucket for the trash.
There are two basic ways to clean a sunfish.
Some folks simply cut the heads off, scale them and gut them and fry them whole.
A much better way in my opinion is to fillet them. Critics say that filleting wastes too much. Actually if well done filleting gets all but a small fraction of the edible fish. It is simply a matter of do you throw the bones away before or after you eat the fish.
Step 1. Place your victim on the board with his head in the clip. Make one vertical cut just behind the gills all the way across the fish, being careful to stop the cut when you feel the backbone.
Step 2. Turn the blade flat and along the backbone.
Step 3. Cut along the backbone stopping just short of the tail.
Step 4. Fold the fillet back so that it is flat on the board.
Step 5. Cut the fillet loose from the skin.
Step 6. With the fillet flat on the board cut out the set of small bones.
Place the fillet in the bowl of ice water while you do the rest of the fish. The ice water will keep the fillets crisp and fresh.
Next time we will cook our fillets.
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