Gutting a fish needn’t be a challenge. Follow these easy steps and you will have a clean fish ready to cook in no time. You will need:
- Your catch – rainbow trout in this example
- A sharp knife
- A spoon / rounded (butter) knife
- Kitchen roll / old newspaper
- Chopping board
- Clean, running water
8 simple steps to gutting a fish:
- Set up your gutting area – be it a table or counter top – by covering it with a layer of old newspaper or kitchen roll. This is to help with cleaning scales and fish entrails quickly and easily after the process is finished.
- Take your fish from the cooler/bucket that you placed it in after catching and place it on your table. This step is optional for trout for which this step is not a requirement but a preference. Grab the butter knife or spoon and scrape off the scales in short movements in the direction from the tail towards the gills. You can buy proper fish scalers, but spoons or butter knives often work just as well to remove scales. Be careful when moving round fins, as depending on the fish, these can give you a small cut if you catch them on your skin. Be sure to remove all the scales from the fish, including around the throat, gills and fins.
- Position the fish under running water for a good rinse. It’s also a good idea at this stage to dispose of the newspaper / kitchen roll that you had the fish on during the scaling process, as the scales tend to go everywhere! If you place the fish on the same paper again after rinsing, the scales will also stick to the fish.
- Replace the kitchen roll / newspaper. Grab your fish and invert it so that it lies belly up. Locate the fish anus and insert your knife drawing it straight up to the base of gills.
- Spread the fish belly open and ease out the entrails. Hint: If you put your fingers just under the gills you should be able to locate pieces of flesh attaching the entails – if you cannot pull this out, simply give this a cut with your knife and the entails should then be easily removed.
- Dispose of the fish entrails and give your fish another rinse. Take your spoon or butter knife and remove the black vein running along the spine of the fish. Give the fish another rinse, outside and in, and head back to your table.
- You may wish now to chop off the head and tail of the fish. Note you can also cook trout with the head attached and this comes down to preference. Use your sharp knife and carefully chop at the base of the gills and just above the fish anus. Give the fish another rinse to ensure blood, scales etc have all been removed.
- You now have a clean and gutted fish, primed for cooking. The next step is your decision. Wrap the fish and freeze for a time when you are ready to use it or prepare your fish for cooking.