Seido Pro Guide: How to Fillet a Fish for Beginners

Knowing how to fillet a fresh fish allows you to fully utilize the meat and preserve your efforts in catching the fish or investing your hard-earned money. Properly filleting a fish minimizes wastage, ensuring that nothing goes to waste. To help you achieve precise filleting, we offer a range of knife sets, including high-quality fish fillet knives that effortlessly glide through the meat. Our Kanpeki Damascus Knife Set, specifically designed for beginners, is an excellent choice to kickstart your filleting journey.

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Every knife serves a specific purpose. When filleting, using the right knife for each task is important. It’s also imperative to keep your knives sharp. A few other tools can make the job easier.

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Filleting fish requires:

  • A fillet knife
  • A chef’s knife
  • Steel mesh gloves (optional)
  • Food-cutting shears
  • Culinary tweezers
  • Cutting board
  • A fish scaler (optional)


Food-grade steel mesh gloves protect your hands from the fish’s scales. They also reduce the risk of cutting yourself.


A fillet knife, also known as a boning knife, features a long, thin blade. The blade is sharp, so be careful using it, just as you would with a chef’s knife. Wipe away slime from your hands and the handle to maintain control.


A quality cutting board makes filleting fish easier. Our Gourmet Acacia, End Grain Cutting Board absorbs up to 5 ounces of food juice and water while you’re working. Its rubber feet assist in keeping the board stable as well.


You’ll start by removing the fish scales. You can use a scaler or the back of your chef’s knife. Start from the tail and make long strokes toward the head. If you like scales on your fish, you can skip this step.

Return to the tail and slice upward toward the head to cut the stomach. Open the fish and use your hand to remove the guts. Rinse it under cold water to wash away the remaining innards. Wipe down your counter to prevent cross-contamination.

You may want to remove the head. Use a chef’s knife to cut where the head meets the gills. Because you’re cutting through the spine, you will have to apply pressure.


  1. Prepare the fish by ensuring it is properly cleaned, gutted, and scaled.
  1. Using scissors, cut away the fins to make your cuts more precise.
  1. Position the fish with its head facing away from you. From tail to head, run your fillet knife along the spine, avoiding sawing motions.
  1. Use a smooth, gliding motion if your knife is sharp.
  1. To stay close to the backbone, gently pull up the flesh while slicing with your knife in the same gliding motion over the rib cage.
  1. Turn over the fish and repeat the same process on the other side. Depending on the size of the fish, consider cutting it into smaller pieces. Use a chef's knife to cut it into 1.5-inch-thick slices. If you prefer skinless fillets, position the fillet skin-side down.
  1. Use a boning knife to slice from one end to the other, without removing the bones or skin if you plan to grill or barbecue the fish, as they support its structure during cooking.
  1. With certain types of fish, removing all the bones during the filleting process can be difficult. Use tweezers to pull out any remaining bones, feeling along the fillet from head to tail to locate the more discreet ones.
  1. Rinse the fillets under cold water to remove scales or debris. Pat them dry with paper towels.
  1. Cook the fillets immediately if you plan to use them right away, or store them in the freezer. Fish fillets can stay good for two to three months in the freezer.


With some practice, you can prepare fish fillets like a pro by following the above steps. Choose high-quality tools to support you in this process. Always keep your knives sharp to create the perfect fillets. At Seido Knives, we only offer you the best food preparation knives. Our products are suitable for beginners and pros alike.

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