How to Fillet Mackerels

How to Fillet Mackerels

fillet mackerel

I don’t know how many people are willing to fillet mackerels in the United States, when you could buy fillets. But there are some reasons of buying a whole fish, and fillet them on your own. First of all, when a head is attached, it’s easier to see whether the fish is fresh or not. And because a fish with head and gut is more perishable than fillets, a whole fish is more likely fresher than fillets. Secondly, if you go fishing, you need to clean them if you want to eat your catch.

I used a mackerel here, because it is very ordinary fish. If you can fillet mackerels, you can fillet other fish as well. The basic principal of filleting fish is the same.

I bought 3 frozen mackerels at a Korean grocery store. They were frozen when I bought, but by the time I brought them back home, they were thawed, even though still very cold.

You have to deal with some blood and gut, but as long as you can handle that part, it is not so difficult to fillet a fish. The best advise is when you do it, just do it quickly with confidence, and don’t examine the fish too much.

Make sure to have a very sharp knife. It is impossible to fillet a fish with a dull or serrated knife.

Two of the popular menus using mackerel fillets are tatsuta fried mackerels and miso stewed mackerels.


Place a knife right under the gill, and cut the head off. Open the stomach, and remove the gut. You can use a spoon to scrape out the gut. Rinse the fish with running cold water to clean.
Hold the fish firmly, spine side facing to you. To fillet, insert the knife deeply right above the bones, starting from the head side to all the way down to the tail. Detach the fillet. Turn the fish to another side, so that the bones are facing to the cutting board now. Again, insert the knife deeply just above the bones along the spine. This time starting from the tail side all the way to the head side. Detach the fillet, and discard the bones.
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