Get your copies now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell's or Indiebound.

12 responses to “How to Butterfly a Fish”

  1. Brady

    Interesting. When I butterfly my trout I start at the top and leave them connected at the belly. Much cleaner and easier to remove the backbone and ribs. Give it a try!

  2. David Smith

    Excellent series of images and how-to description. I’ve found deboning whole fish or game to be a very useful skill to cultivate, as it makes for some very visually impressive impressive dishes that are sure to make your dinner guests exclaim things like, “This looks so awesome! How did you get the bones out?” Perfect conversation fodder. great post…makes me want to go fishing right now!

  3. Jon B

    Another great post Hank… I will be trying this! What do you usually stuff it with and do you just use regular thread to sew the fish back up?

  4. Jeff @ Cheeseburger

    Thanks for the excellent guide Hank

  5. Yong

    This is awesome. I find all the bones in trout to be their biggest detriment but this looks pretty simple and easy to do.

  6. Amy S

    Great technique. I love to do this with trout and stuff with a combo of scallops, bacon and green onions. I think you should make a video of the technique and post it. I learned by watching a chef do this in a restaurant where I worked, but would have had a hard time with a written description. I think that means I’m left or right brained or something, or maybe just half. 🙂

  7. Cleve

    Alternate method I use with gilled and gutted fish (salmon and trout) is to remove the spine first. This allows easier access to remove the rib bones, which is typically where most most meat waste occurs.

    I cut along the spine through the rib bones (from head to tail), keeping the knife angled so the point does not pierce the skin of the fishes back. Once you’ve done this on both sides of the spine, you can snip the spine at head and tail and it pops right out. Then, you can lay the fish wide open and remove the ribs-cutting from spine to belly instead of belly to spine. Even on larger fish you can see through the membrane that separates the body cavity from the bones/meat, so you can watch your knife point as you cut to make sure you don’t cut deeply into the filet.

    This maximizes retention of belly meat, and belly meat is the best (highest concentration of fat).

    To remove pin bones, lay the open fish meat side up on an inverted bowl. This caused the meat to pull back from the pin bones, exposing them so that you can pull them out with needle-nose pliers. Take care to pull the bones at the same angle they are protruding to minimize tearing the meat.

    Sorry for the giant comment. LOVE your blog.

  8. Wild Food: Butterflied, Pan-fried Rainbow Trout | Hunt/Fish/Play

    […] I didn’t want to fillet the fish and waste all that meat, since it was feeding the both of us. So I consulted Mr Hank Shaw’s blog, and lo. There was a tutorial on deboning a fish. […]

  9. Hugh

    For those who want the simplest, but not the most beautiful presentation, for trout and mackerel, these I have done frequently, scale, gut, and remove the gills, and wash the fish. Dry with some paper towels if frying, or if baking (my preference) , put fish on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet (makes clean up much easier) , and season the fish. I use just salt and some butter in the body cavity. I don’t see them up or skewer them closed. Bake the fish at 350 degrees for as long as needed (size of fish matters) so the meat is white and still moist. I then just peal back the top skin and remove the top filet cooked, then I remove the ribs and backbone, then plate the other filet! All the skins and heads get wrapped in the cooking foil and put in the freezer til trash day. It’s simple, but not sit down fancy with friends. Just good, skin and bone free eating! I really liked your blog though. It’s a better option for presentation and for cooking on a bar BQ grill! Thank you!

  10. more fish stuff | dropitintheocean

Leave a Reply