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How to clean a fish

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How to clean a fish

Follow these simple steps to successfully clean your fish:


You will need:
  1. A fish scaler (optional)
  2. A sharp filleting knife
  3. A filleting glove (optional but recommended)
  4. A spoon
  5. Plenty of newspaper

Note: A filleting glove provides protection against accidental cuts and makes it easier to grip the fish. Modern filleting gloves are lightweight and comfortable to use.

1. Clean the outside of the fish

The first step is to clean the outside of the fish in running water. This removes the protective slime from the skin of the fish and makes it much easier to handle. If you want to remove the scales from the fish, now is the time to do it either with a blunt knife edge or using a fish scaler.

2. Separate the jaw from the throat

To clean the fish first Cut through the skin connecting the fishes lower jaw to the throat

Once the fish is washed and clean, its time to remove the unwanted bits.

Place the fish on several sheets of newspaper and start by cutting through the flap of skin that connects the fishes lower jaw to the throat.

3. Cut open the cavity and remove the innards

To clean the fish cut open the cavity and remove the innards

Insert the knife into the fishes throat and work the knife down towards the fishes tail, stopping at the vent opening by the two fins nearest the tail.

The innards, throat and gills should now pull away easily. (Though I often find the gills need to be cut away with the knife)

4. Scrape away the kidney line with a spoon

To clean the fish scrape away the kidney line with a spoon
The final step in cleaning the fish is to remove the kidney line that runs along the spine.

Simply scrape it away using the rounded edge of a spoon. (or you can use the nail of your thumb for this)

That's it. Now wash the fish in water and you have a classically cleaned fish ready for cooking using your favourite recipe.

The quick alternative

An alternative technique of cleaning a fish that is a bit quicker and removes the head is:
  • Wash the fish
  • Cut the head off by slicing down behind the gills
  • Slice down the belly and remove the innards
  • Remove the kidney line using a spoon
  • Wash in water until clean

Top Tips

Whichever method you use, these tips will come in handy:
  • Use plenty of newspaper, it soaks up the blood and once you've cleaned the fish simply wrap it up and throw into the bin.
  • Always cut away from you. if the knife slips then it's less likely to cut you.
  • There's a common saying that 'a sharp knife is a safe knife'. Think about it, the less you have to struggle or force the knife the less likely it is that there'll be an accident.
  • Handling a sharp knife always carries a risk with it. For your safety we recommend using a filleting glove.