Join 3,520 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Do you eat Sushi?
September 27, 2012 2:23 PM   Subscribe

Fish Filleting: A short Youtube series of demonstrations by fish mongers with sharp knives

Warning: Please do not click if you don't like to see where & how your fish dish is coming from.
posted by growabrain (23 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
That was a little bit like posting a link on how to drive then having the video be the Indianapolis 500.
posted by Felex at 2:31 PM on September 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


Heh... I once took a two day course in how to use fishing as an environmental curriculum, and part of the course was "how to filet a bluegill" by an older gentlemen. I decided to do a quick video of the demonstration. I've posted a number of videos on youtube, this is the only one that has received over 8,000 hits, who wudda thunk.

Please note, this is the only fish filleting video you'll watch today with a polar bear in the background.
posted by HuronBob at 2:34 PM on September 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Knife goes in, guts come out.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 2:45 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fish is, aside from baking, the unknown frontier for me in the kitchen, mostly because I don't get the magic behind making it not carry hidden slivers of bone. I thank ye for your kind post.
posted by Ghidorah at 2:50 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh boy. I worked fish for many years, and a lot of that time was spent on the cutting bench. I don't do commercial fish anymore, but when I find myself awake and unable to sleep, I cut through a pile of cod like other people count sheep. 5 cuts, then flip. It's very meditative. You need to be relaxed but highly aware of where your left hand is, as well as the knife.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 2:53 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Awesome videos.
posted by Renoroc at 2:58 PM on September 27, 2012


You have to learn to let the flexible filet knife do most of the work.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:08 PM on September 27, 2012


Lifetime saltwater fisherman/fish cutter-upper here. Watching those videos is fun. Coupla observations:

A good, sharp filet knife is one of the finest things known to man.

Filleting big fish like these is much easier than pan-sized fish. (Although there is more room for error.)

Watching the wahoo video made me hungry. Wahoo is, hands down, the tastiest fish in the ocean.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 3:34 PM on September 27, 2012


Admirable. But I want to see them do a pickerel that fast. Someone gave us one earlier this year and we threw it out due to mangling it. Dang smelly too, even fresh out of the lake. Ugly as sin. I can eat perch and trout but not pickerel, after looking at that sucker and my husband trying to filet it. Ugh.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 4:46 PM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


The speed is interesting to watch, but it's not terribly clean or precise. They're just zipping through the fish. To really see some amazing fish filleting, check out some of the Japanese videos on filleting salmon.
posted by slkinsey at 5:01 PM on September 27, 2012


mmmmmm, lubs me some fishes

Slkinsey, sotto voce, please.

Don't make those guys mad. You know what else they can fillet....
posted by BlueHorse at 5:21 PM on September 27, 2012


"Where & how your fish dish is coming from" is my new favorite phrase.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:22 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of when I asked my butcher to show me how to separate a chicken into four servings. He took me in the back with a chicken, took out his cleaver and performed two whacks, one vertical, one horizontal. And voila!
posted by cacofonie at 7:47 PM on September 27, 2012


Yeah I was hoping to see salmon as well. I consider myself fairly handy filleting a salmon but would love to see how the pros go at them. I immediately went looking for a Masahiro 240mm filet knife after the first video, that knife was impressively sharp.

protip: use a >dull< knife for the step of peeling the skin off the filet.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 9:12 PM on September 27, 2012


The specialized speediness reminds me of the cake bagger video.

Can anyone provide any context to these videos? Do these guys specialize in cutting up one particular section of one particular fish? Or do they change it up between different fish/fish sections?

Slkinsey, you have any links to videos?
posted by comradechu at 9:36 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I did a couple of months fieldwork on a small island where people live subsistence-style, mainly from fish. They don't fillet most fish - just clean them (sometimes) and serve them whole. Sometimes they don't bother to cook them, either, actually...

But they do fillet the big ones like tuna or mahi-mahi, and even the five-year-old kids could do it as fast as these guys in the video. I tried to learn a bit, but never got very fast.

Fast-forward to last Christmas when I visited my aunt and her new boyfriend who was all into hunting and fishing and (apparently) gender essentialism. My husband, who doesn't like to kill even insects, doesn't really eat fish, and has never wielded a knife near one was called over to help fillet a pile of snapper. He tried to excuse himself, and I offered to help instead. But no, I was sent to make tea for the "men" (aunt's boyfriend, my reluctant and clumsy husband, and my 15-year-old brother, who was also totally baffled by the process.)
posted by lollusc at 9:40 PM on September 27, 2012


Slkinsey, you have any links to videos?

Check out itasan18's channel on YouTube. Warning! Cheesy music and sometimes ill-considered (from a Western standpoint) preparations.

This video on salmon is interesting right up the point where he starts making it in to a spaghetti dish. The fish-cutting is amazing, though.

And here is a good one on skipjack tuna.
posted by slkinsey at 5:23 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


But I want to see them do a pickerel that fast.

A pickerel is, perhaps, the single toughest fish to fillet. Like pike and salmon, it has free-floating "pin bones" that need to be removed with pliers after filleting, and get in the way of the filleting process itself... but it's also very small compared with pike, and the flesh very delicate, so it's easy to mangle.

It's much easier to clean and cook whole, taking care to avoid the bones when eating.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:56 AM on September 28, 2012


It's much easier to clean and cook whole, taking care to avoid the bones when eating.

That's how we roll here in Japan, motherfuckers.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:20 AM on September 28, 2012


Note, by the way, that most of the fish in the Japanese fish cutting videos are 3/4 cut through in the tail area. This is because these fish were killed and processed using the ikejime technique which, among other things, running a wire down the length of the spinal column immediately after killing so that postmortem involuntary contractions don't negatively affect the quality of the flesh.


Japanese fish cutting techniques are interesting and quite different from Western fish cutting techniques. One obvious difference is that Japanese techniques involve a broad, stiff and fairly heavy knife whereas Western techniques work best with a thin and flexible blade. Highly-skilled Western fish cutting in evidence here.
posted by slkinsey at 8:26 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


One obvious difference is that Japanese techniques involve a broad, stiff and fairly heavy knife whereas Western techniques work best with a thin and flexible blade.

This is completely false. Western techniques (at least how I was trained and how I cut for 17 years) are to use the tool that works best, depending on the fish and the filleter. I'd bet real money that this rule holds true in Japan as well. Sometimes it's a heavy butcher's boning knife (mahi, tuna, sword) sometimes a flexible knife (flukes and flounders), and mostly a fairly stiff Dexter-Russel 1038, or whatever passes for one now.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 10:42 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I should have prefaced my post by saying that I was speaking of high-end fish cutting rather than speed-based production cutting, and also that I was speaking mostly of fish less than a meter in length. In these cases, the traditional Japanese knife used for 90% to 100% of the task is the deba. This is a stiff, broad and fairly heavy knife. Western fish cutting techniques at a similar level on the same sorts of fish are more likely to use a knife that looks like this. In my book -- and certainly compared to the deba -- that is a thin and flexible blade. Obviously there are others that are even more thin and flexible. The point is that Japanese and Western tools and approaches to fish cutting are radically different at the high end. In fish markets or processing facilities where cutters are buzzing through fish as fast as they can, there may be a lot more similarity.
posted by slkinsey at 12:24 PM on September 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yes, I was surprised to see the big, chunky knives on the relatively smaller fish. (Although everything is small compared to a bluefin.) We rarely fillet fish at home because there are no fishmongers nearby, but we have the one "thin, flexible" Henckels. It was easy to buy because it said fish filleting knife on the box.

The evil-looking recurved blade used in the Bahrain fish market video is also quite a departure from the Japanese videos and what I am used to in the West.
posted by milkb0at at 1:30 PM on September 28, 2012


« Older The television program Adventures of Superman aire...  |  His official title is continui... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments