How to Gut a Fish
Knowing how to gut a fish properly can keep a potentially delicious meal from either being spoilt or potentially not happening whatsoever. Although all fish differ slightly, this ‘how to’ will explain how to prepare a whole fish ready for the bbq or grilling (filleting a fish is a different skill that is much more species specific.)
1- Find a suitable place to gut your fish. It is best to not have to do this inside as things can get rather messy especially if you’re new to the experience. I always process my catch at the water’s edge to avoid having to clean up after myself (the seabirds and other fish will do that for you).
2- Scale the fish first. Unless you’re dealing with a particularly spinney species or flat fish, the fins can be left on (as you’re cooking it whole), so the first task is to de-scale. This can be a very messy process if not done properly. Holding the fish underwater (at the water’s edge or in a basin), use the back of a knife held slightly at an angle (to scrape against the skin rather than to cut it), remove the scales by scraping from tail to head.
3- Remove the head. For presentation purposes it’s often nice to leave the head on (if serving a large fish to a group of people for example), however this leaves you with the minor complication of freeing the guts from the gullet- this just requires a bit of force or a slit using a sharp blade.
4- Slit from the anus up to the head. Once open, all of the guts can very easily be removed and discarded simply by using your fingers to pull them out.
5- Rinse out the fish with fresh water and dab off using a paper towel before storing in a sealed bag in the fridge.
Abide by fishing regulations! Fines can be costly and ignoring regulations may mean less fish available in seasons to come.
Learn the dangers of the water you’ll be using.