Amount flesh When Filleting

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    Posted: 04 Nov 2021 at 10:54am
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Last week was 2 trips out of the bar filling the bins.
 The 2nd I was filleting most by myself, and as one does towards the end , gets into a few absent minded thoughts to break the bordum.

I could see the bottom of the bin, didnt want to slow down but needed a 'distraction of the brain' break.
 The fish had not been gutted an been on ice for approx 12hrs

So the last few snappers I measured
length
Weight
Weight finished, skinned and de boned fillets

These are the numbers I ended up with.
 Length  Total Weight   Fillet Weight)   % of fillet
  33 cm       770gm            310gm           40.3%
  34            796                 290                36.4
  36            915                 362                38.7
  45            1929               703                36.4%
  47            2349               767                32.6
  51            2683               869                32.4
 63             4741              1545               32.6

The 34cm, as one does every so often, messed up the skinning and pinning.

Couple things that I believe gives significant more meat are
1/ When cut the back of the gills, I use the tip of the knife and lean right back into the head and at the top.
2/ I slit the skin going towards the head in the little fold next to the fin...
3/ A cut across the top of the tail, allows the fillet to lift to fillet off... but leave attached.
4/ Do other side, if 1st fillet hasnt been removed fish stays flat making filleting 2nd side easier and cleaner.
5/ careful not to cut the gut when cut the pins.
6/ Ribs , slide point knife under from the bottom, blade up, flick away from the pins, turn knife over and slide between belly meat and ribs.
7/ Remove pins , from the skin side up, slide knife down the gut side of pins, then the top side..
8/ I split the fillets so have a nice even long sections.. presents well on the plate, easy to batter and cook... and on smaller fillets, the belly side is ideal for stir frys , curries pies etc.

Like breaking down a deer, or hogget, its about clean (not random cuts into the meat and ragity,) solid cuts, respect to the the animal, by making the best of it... with reasonable speed.

A 310gm fillet of a just legal  33cm is a nice sweet very fresh fillet $14/15 for an elderly couple down the road that they cant afford anymore.

Would be interested as to how what others do and comments.


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Post Options Post Options   Likes (1) Likes(1)   Quote Telecaster Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Nov 2021 at 1:49pm
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Interesting that the yield seems to decrease as the fish get bigger, but I suppose the spine, bones and head are all a lot thicker on a bigger fish which adds weight. I love filleting the 33-40CM ones, so much easier to manage than bigger fish.
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Thanks "steps" exactly what I have found,32 to 40 nice big fillets and thick compared to over 45 to 60 yield drops as telecaster points out ,back bone etc is thicker and heavier

Why do so many discard to under 40 range?
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Why do so many discard to under 40 range?

 We take what ever thats legal to get a feed..
After that we select what want to take home.
Generally its a few 32 ish thu 45 ish for fresh feed fish that night and ideal for elderly neighbours, and families with children.
 The bigger fillets go in the smoker, for vac pac, fish cakes pies, pattie, etc.
And for others( crews ) freezers.

PS we also keep and smoke the row and the wings off the 45 + fish. And if room in the smoker a couple of the large heads...
Weights at the top above do not include any of these.

Curious thu what others get on their yields.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Fish 4T Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Nov 2021 at 7:05pm
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Interesting numbers, thanks for sharing. 
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote kitno Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Nov 2021 at 9:20pm
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Interesting steps. I might have a little experiment myself.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote The Tamure Kid Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Nov 2021 at 8:56am
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out of interest, I once calculated some data when i bought some (cover your ears, Smudge and the grunter crew) whole gurnard at Oceans Seafoods versus buying fillets. 

Obviously both are sold per kg. 

I noted down the price of fillets, and when i got home weighed the fillets I ended up with after buying the fish whole and having the staff fillet them for free. Worked out cheaper to buy whole.

But in terms of the data above, I think your next mission Steps should be to weight a gutted and gilled snapper, then either smoke or boil it whole and pick out and then weigh all the chunks of edible flesh (say, for making some fish cakes). That way you'd include any meat off the cheeks, skull, frame etc. that's not captured when filleting.

That would give you a very useful percentage to compare to purely filleted percentage.

Ie. filleted recovery, versus total potential recovery (not counting eyes!!).

Your filleting sounds pretty much best practise from the videos i've seen by Matt Watson etc. Didn't you previously gut your fish at sea? but now you leave them in and sweep the knife up over the ribs? 
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Steps Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Nov 2021 at 5:48pm
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I noted down the price of fillets, and when i got home weighed the fillets I ended up with after buying the fish whole and having the staff fillet them for free. Worked out cheaper to buy whole.

Son used to be a fish bar manager in a major super market.
Its about time.. rather than productive..
Like those who brag about being able top fillet fish in X seconds.. with no regard to yeild.
Straight slice behind the gill plate, flick knife over 90 deg whip down the back bone , slice each side of the pins with no regard to which way they lean, and take out a big chunk.

Didn't you previously gut your fish at sea?

Wondered who would pick that up Thumbs Up

Trip above things just got rather busy bring fish over the side, young grandson with us etc.. so the fish above never got gutted.. and hence I thought  "I wonder how good I actually am, since 1/3 fillet weight has been a general guide line.

I think your next mission Steps should be to weight a gutted and gilled snapper, then either smoke or boil it whole and pick out and then weigh all the chunks of edible flesh (say, for making some fish cakes).

 Though about that...
1/ We fillet, wife cooks it how she wants...Larger fillets get smoked, vac paced for cakes, pies..
2/ Only on very rear occasions do week cook a whole fish.. less gut less scales...so maybe a post some time in the future.

Side note: Hint cooking a whole fish.
1/Gut and scale
2/ With a sharp knife, cut the skin only, behind the gill plate, right up into the temple.
3/ Then from the bottom of the top fin, the little fold in the skin next to it, upto the temple, then back down to the tail and across the tail.
4/Then from tail to poo hole.
5/And one cut down the pin bone line.
6/ And a line down the back of the rib bones.



Put whatever other cuts in you may like for cooking and as deep as you prefer.

Cook, serve up on a plate flat.
1/The Flesh from the tail to the gill plate/ temple lifts off in 1 piece like a the strips flesh on cooked flounder.
2/Then the lower section from the tail to the belly lifts off clean.
3/The belly lifts off from the ribs.
4/ Now put another serving plate at the head end of the fish. Tale the tail, gently lift  and sort of roll it up and over onto the 2nd plate.
 The pin bones , ribs , goes over leaving the other side of flesh in 1 piece and bone less Thumbs Up

 Anyway another mission out couple days ago and recorded some more numbers.

30.5 cm   456gm    183gm  39.5%
33.5        757         275       40.7%
34           756         281       37.2%
35.5        819         304       37%
40.5        1054       358        34%
41.5        1067       395        37%
44           1447       496        34.3%
46.5        2254       837        37.1%
53           2666       880        33%  

I have noticed some little inconsistencies in the 1st list so took a little note of fish condition, male, female and some are very rowed up still others obviously have spawned 



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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Steps Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Nov 2021 at 6:03pm
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Daughter made a video how I fillet rec style and respect to the animal... and with couple boo boos in it I dont know how to edit.. but I think keeps it real.
 Now got to figure out post it up as nearly 680 meg.
 Got a pic thu


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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote The Tamure Kid Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Nov 2021 at 6:37pm
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That's great news, Steps. Look forward to it.
Cool looking shed. A lifetime of wisdom in there, I bet.

Anyway, can I respectfully suggest you create a YouTube channel and upload the video to that?
Then you can just include the link to the channel on here. 

Trying to load a massive vid to the site is likely to end in tears.

I did the YouTube thing for a car for sale video walkaround. Then just deleted the video afterwards and my 'channel' has nothing on it. 

Good tips re the whole snapper. We love an Asian style herb and spice rub on a whole snapper occasionally. But only with people who aren't "allergic" to bones or eyes!

I'm pretty confident that I get my fillets clean as a whistle, particularly on smaller fish with smaller bumps on the backbone. I also cut out any roe separately after all the filleting is done, so as to not get any gut juice on the filleting board until the end.

the one thought i have re 'wastage' on my job is about the cheek meat, and the 'wings'. I cut up over the ribcage, so there's very little left in the 'wing' area. Maybe some, though. I also once saw an article in NZ Fishing News (I think by Sam Mossman) about using the whole fish. He chopped up the frame to create chunks which can be baked or dabbed in flour and fried (thereby using the flesh that's left in between the bones after filleting). I give the heads and front part of the frame (minus gills and guts) to a Niuean friend, so not much gets wasted.

With smaller snaps, I often scale them to eat as crispy skin fillets.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote smudge Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Nov 2021 at 8:11pm
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Surprisingly I've never gone into quite the same detail as Steps but I remember reading somewhere that professional fish processers count on 1/3 of the whole weight of snapper resulting in fillets. I'm way too clumsy with a knife to be half as good as a pro - I put a snapper spine right through my finger and out the other side - dunno how it missed the bone - while scaling a 3kg fish yesterday Big smile but yeah about a third is what I get without getting too technical.

The fish I roasted/grilled was pretty good to be fair and that fish fed 5 people and enough left for a couple of lunches. As fillets it would have all gone in a flash.

Skoti and I have started a fish head giveaway fb site for Waiuku, because I find it hard to get people to take frames and heads. Hopefully it gets some local traction
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote smudge Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Nov 2021 at 8:29pm
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While I have no aversion to eating the frames and the heads, we do tend to get our share of fish and the clean up and smoking/processing can get a bit much so I'm quite happy to give some away. I'm not going to motor for three hours and not take advantage of the fish on offer - different story for harbour fishing of course. With the best intentions I once had a good catch and smoked up a lot of frames and heads, they were delicious but do you think I could give it away? Nope. Some of the guys at work polished it up though so there wasn't as much wastage as I feared. Was easy to get rid of it when my wife home cared for  a chap at the local marae. Unfortunately she's not working now but hopefully someone else on the marae will take some fish
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Steps Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Nov 2021 at 7:35am
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Thank TTK figured out the U tube thing..apparently I opened an account 5 or so yrs ago when selling my old 115 johnny..

Any way this is how I Fillet my fish. Pretty well the same basic method for most species.
Hmm that didnt work.. try link again


We love an Asian style herb and spice rub on a whole snapper occasionally. But only with people who aren't "allergic" to bones or eyes!

The cuts as I mention above, and now added pic (I didnt know had uploaded to here as lost in the pics cant delete all the useless crap ones) enble the dissection of the cooked fish without the hasstle of bones.

I also cut out any roe separately after all the filleting is done, so as to not get any gut juice on the filleting board until the end.

I was surprised not gutting at sea..When fillet as above, not including the KY, and I did over 20 fish, didnt spill any gut on the board...And picked out the rows as took off the fillets.

the one thought i have re 'wastage' on my job is about the cheek meat, and the 'wings'.

 The larger fish I smoke the wings for junk food.. they vac pac and freeze nice.. best meat on the fish, cheeks etc 2nd best.. Smoke the heads if room in the smoker.

Cool looking shed. A lifetime of wisdom in there, I bet.

If look close just to the right of the Myford lathe is one of the smokers, with vent to the outside.
Around to the right the drill press, water blaster, band saw.. (band saw would be the most well used tool in the shed even over the bench saw) Then the spa pool in the center, over the back fridges freezers, and big 700mm work benches and vices etc across the back wall.
But its a lot smaller and lower than my old shed when lived in the city..and have sold all the classic and vintage cars






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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Steps Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Nov 2021 at 9:54am
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Surprisingly I've never gone into quite the same detail as Steps

Well one has a pile of fish to fillet

 So filleting away, just thinking about .. we 5h1t in general, including
 " I wonder what my yield is?"
 Only this time these close to 30 fish..no 'production line' with couple guys.
P
lus m8 Broke his little finger plus cut tendons to it and the next finger, and out of cast for 3 days..Hes the one sitting watching me in pic above.

Only this time actually DO  measure/ weigh to fill in the repetitive bordum.

So guys, I and sure others would be very interested in methods and yields from that method.

 
Edit:  Do not use those spring based dial scales.. they are so bloody inaccurate and inconstant.
I use a cheap flat electronic kitchen scales with a large plastic dish that re zero, throw the fillets in. And a sec dish that sits on top of the fillets, re zero lay the next whole fish in.
 



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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote The Tamure Kid Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Nov 2021 at 8:54pm
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I don't mind inconsistent scales, as long as when i pull on them they add a pound or two to a big fish!! LOL

Glad to see the YouTube thought panned out. Simple way to show people videos.

Its always interesting to see someone else's filleting technique - little variations to try out. Being a leftie is another perspective as well.
I almost always manage to do my filleting without spilling any gut cavity, and am convinced that is crucial.
Presumably gutting at sea, and a quick rinse in sea water, is equally free of any contamination. But it's much more acceptable to my family to have me back home and starting the clean up, including filleting, rather than doing all that and coming back home later. It's all about perception!

Goes without saying you are using a sharp knife, which makes a nice clean job. 

Thanks for posting, including the classic man cave, and the interesting thread. 
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote smudge Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Nov 2021 at 9:12pm
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Not throwing a wet blanket over Steps' post but just a thing with measurement. People put a lot of trust in measurements. Even digital scales can be  way out. Analogue scales even more so. If you really want to gauge how accurate your scales are, take an empty milk bottle, tare that weight (probably 10g or so) carefully measure out 2 litres taking into account the surface tension of the water (easy Smudge!) and pour that into the container. If it reads within coooee of 2kg then your scales are reasonably accurate. For the technofiles out there you know that 2 litres of water weighs 2kg at 20 degrees C
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Fish Addict Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Nov 2021 at 9:21pm
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Originally posted by The Tamure Kid The Tamure Kid wrote:

... Its always interesting to see someone else's filleting technique - little variations to try out.
Thanks for posting ... interesting thread. 

Couldn't agree more.  I had never thought about variances in fillet yield associated with fish size.  Steps numbers certainly indicate a trend that smaller snapper have higher fillet yield figures than larger snapper.
With respect to filleting techniques I guess there really isn't a wrong way or right way, it's what works for you with the tools you have.  My Dad taught me when I was a young lad.  Old habits die hard but like you TTK it's interesting to see the technique of others.  I found the vids in the link below interesting.  There's even a Kiwi style mentioned.  :-)  I can't comment about the accuracy of that.


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Originally posted by Fish Addict Fish Addict wrote:

Originally posted by The Tamure Kid The Tamure Kid wrote:

... Its always interesting to see someone else's filleting technique - little variations to try out.
Thanks for posting ... interesting thread. 

Couldn't agree more.  I had never thought about variances in fillet yield associated with fish size.  Steps numbers certainly indicate a trend that smaller snapper have higher fillet yield figures than larger snapper.
With respect to filleting techniques I guess there really isn't a wrong way or right way, it's what works for you with the tools you have.  My Dad taught me when I was a young lad.  Old habits die hard but like you TTK it's interesting to see the technique of others.  I found the vids in the link below interesting.  There's even a Kiwi style mentioned.  :-)  I can't comment about the accuracy of that.



Agree with you both, I very seldom gut fish these days and if I do it's almost always after filleting, as Steps says it keeps things clean.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote The Tamure Kid Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Nov 2021 at 10:01pm
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Originally posted by Fish Addict Fish Addict wrote:

Originally posted by The Tamure Kid The Tamure Kid wrote:

... Its always interesting to see someone else's filleting technique - little variations to try out.
Thanks for posting ... interesting thread. 

Couldn't agree more.  I had never thought about variances in fillet yield associated with fish size.  Steps numbers certainly indicate a trend that smaller snapper have higher fillet yield figures than larger snapper.
With respect to filleting techniques I guess there really isn't a wrong way or right way, it's what works for you with the tools you have.  My Dad taught me when I was a young lad.  Old habits die hard but like you TTK it's interesting to see the technique of others.  I found the vids in the link below interesting.  There's even a Kiwi style mentioned.  :-)  I can't comment about the accuracy of that.



Funnily enough, I found my way to that video after reading an article on that website about best filleting knives. 

https://www.filletfish.com.au/info/filleting-knives

Knives are another thing that I'm always absorbing info about, and for which there are a large number of opinions. Carbon steel v stainless; flexible v stiff; narrow v wide; convex edge v standard...
The guy has Kiwi made Victory, and Kestrel and Diogenes (both produced by Victory too). The orange handled Swibo he uses in some of his vids is a straight, firm, boning knife - not sold as a fish filleting knife.

Anyway, to your point, in both the article and that video list, the "Kiwi style" is referenced as something he learned in WA from a Kiwi commercial filleter.

The 'old school' way my dad uses (he's nearly 87) involves a very sharp, hard straight boning style carbon steel knife that must be from the '50s I'd say.

He takes a similar first cut to me, then completely crunches down through the rib cage, twists the knife sideways and cuts back to the tail as close as possible to the backbone.

It looks like a very clean fillet, as you essentially slice off the entire side of the fish. But of course, that method completely exposes the gut cavity, and causes gut juice to run over the filleting board. I think most people recognise that is not good for the flesh that touches it; and you're left having to cut out the ribs, which ends up with a very similar result to going up and over anyway.

Of course that assumes the fish hasn't been gutted earlier. 
I would pick that commercial operators don't waste time doing that, they fillet the fish whole in the factory.

I don't like the way the commercial expert in the video exposes heaps of guts in almost every style he explains, when to me it's not necessary. 
I did pick up the way he really gets the head meat, and also the angled flick to go through the pin bones. The 'rib in' video is pretty much what i do, learned from other similar videos including one by Grunta.

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Im not so much interested in fish length to fillet yield.
 More respect to the animal and good practice rec fishing filleting methods to give best yield without taking 10 mins per fish.

Note: there is the commercial, cut turn slice, skin.. lot left on frames which then gets recycled into fish cakes, compressed into  battered frozen fingers etc..

As mentioned above Victory (and green river knives)

Steels, use, sharpening etc is covered in older threads.
I have my old green river carbon, more modern stainless and victory in shed and kitchen.
These days doesnt matter if carbon or stainless ,, technology has moved on beyond the carbon.
 What is eventual is the correct blade hardness for the end use, and even more so , how the blade is used... Knife skills not dragging sideways or over bones etc.
 Also the edge angle for the end use.
The tips of my filleting knives are around 22 deg.. the main blade where you see me chop up thru ribs etc is more 33/35 deg.
 And I re form the edges to convex edges, which are far more robust.
 Big fish I also use victory cabbage knife and a small machette.

 In the video, I have already filleted out around 15/20 snapper all up around the 48 to 65cm, and couple KY , and have not yet put the blade onto the steel, or touched it up.
After washing down the knife, it gets 5 each (alternative) side strop on a 1200grit wet dry sand paper, on a foam pad.. then light spray with aerosol kitchen non stick vegetable oil.

Scales , dont even bother with analog.. they are cheap, and inconsistent thru the dial range, so often read light one end heavy the other.. get a little moisture in them and even worse.
 So you may get a good reading on a milk bottle of WATER..
Milk has a higher specific gravity and 2L is not 2kg.
 Digital, yes check ..tare the container , measure a liter water.. should be 1kg...the 2L, then 5L the 20L.
 I have yet to check and find digital scales that read significantly incorrect.
 Being ex industrial chemist, things like scales I tend to be rather anal about... As I am with my knives, having a father who was old school cut throat razer, barber tradie who back in those days (50s) , scissors, knives, cut throat, strops , where all big part of the 5/6 yr trade.


 My filleting method, like posts above is still the basic learned from my Dad in 50s and 60s.
 Espec not removing the 1st fillet till 2nd cut...
 Then a few modifications over the decades from working along side other crew.
 Always be open to learning new stuff.. always.
EG the slice up the side of the top fin... Vinnie.. (Baitcatcher)
The big lean into the head , under the gill plate, flicking the ribs out..and cutting out the pins from the skin side another a  long retired old school chef.

Cutting thru the pins then filleting off the belly method, some guys do that so damn well.. I have tried and tried to get that to work, and yeah as good as most who use that method... BUT.
There are only couple guys who somehow peel that belly meat all the way off , not leaving most on the frame.

So guys next fish, pick out 3 or 5 fish a short middle and longest...the post up the numbers...
and method.


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