(The cook book of the Boston Cooking School, before Fannie Farmer took over as Director of the School)
If the fish have scales, remove them before opening. Scrape with a small, sharp knife from the tail to the head; hold the knife flat and slanting, resting it on the fish, that the scales may be taken upon the knife; scrape slowly, that the scales may not fly over everything near, and rinse the knife often in cold water.
When the fish is to be served whole, do not remove the head and tail. Smelts and small fish served whole are opened under the gills, and the contents squeezed out by pressing from the middle with the thumb and finger. Large fish are split open from the gills half-way down the lower part of the body, the entrails removed, and the inside scraped and cleaned. Open far enough to remove all the blood on the backbone. Many leave the sound, which is the white part adhering to the bone; but it is better to remove it.
Cut a thin, narrow strip down the backbone, taking off the dorsal fin. Then open the lower part half-way down. Slip the knife under and up through the bony part of the gills, and hold this bony part between the thumb and finger, and strip the skin off toward the tail. Then do the same on the other side.
Small fish, like mackerel and white-fish, when dressed for broiling, should be split through the back.
Clean, and strip off the skin; lay the fish flat on a board; begin at the tail, and run the knife in under the flesh close to the bone, and scrape it away clean from the bone, holding the flesh carefully, not to break the flakes. When the flesh on one side is removed, slip the knife under the bone on the other side, and raise the bone, leaving the flesh on the board; then pull out all the small bones left in the flesh, which you can easily feel with the fingers. Fish with many fine bones, like shad and herring, are not boned; but from cod, cusk, mackerel, whitefish, and haddock they may be easily removed.
Fillets of Fish are the flesh separated from the bone, and served whole or divided, as the case may require. Flounders or sole, chicken halibut, and bass, should have the fillets on each side divided lengthwise; making four long thin pieces, or fillets. Other fish are cut into thin slices or small squares. Very small fish may be split, the bone removed, and the whole fish rolled up from the tail to the head and fastened with a skewer.
Classic Seafood Recipes & Fish Recipes
How to choose, clean, skin, bone, fillet and cook fish and other seafood
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