Catch of the Day – How to Clean Fresh Fish

No doubt about it Fresh Fish is one of the best ways to stay healthy

Fish is a low-fat high-quality protein. Fish is filled with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins such as D and B2 (riboflavin). Fish is rich in calcium and phosphorus and a great source of minerals, such as iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least two times per week as part of a healthy diet. Fish is packed with protein, vitamins, and nutrients that can lower blood pressure and help reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Eating fish is an important source of omega-3 fatty acids. These essential nutrients keep our heart and brain health. Two omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Our bodies don’t produce omega-3 fatty acids so we must get them through the food we eat. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in every kind of fish but are especially high in fatty fish. Some good choices are salmon, trout, sardines, herring, canned mackerel, canned light tuna, and oysters.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids:

Help maintain a healthy heart by lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of sudden death, heart attack, abnormal heart rhythms, and strokes.

Aid healthy brain function and infant development of vision and nerves during pregnancy.

May decrease the risk of depression, ADHD, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and diabetes.

May prevent inflammation and reduce the risk of arthritis.

Cultural Importance

Fish is an important cultural icon that defines a recreational as well as a spiritual way of life. Fish is not only an important source of nutrition, the act of catching, preparing, and eating fish are important cultural and family practices as well. To Native American Indian Tribes, fish, especially salmon, are an integral part of their lives, and serve as a symbol of their prosperity, culture, and heritage.

How to clean and prepare fish before cooking

Follow this link to a YouTube video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWnmQubQYlE

Should I wash fresh fish before cooking?

Food Safety experts (including us at USDA) do not recommend washing raw meat and poultry before cooking. Many bacteria are quite loosely attached and when you rinse these foods the bacteria will be spread around your kitchen.

Per Van Isle Marina here are step-by-step instructions

Cleaning Fish on a boat or next to your fishing spot

It’s never the best part of the fishing experience, and it’s often a thankless task, but someone on board the boat or at your fishing spot has got to do it. We’re talking about cleaning your catch. Knowing how to clean a fish properly is something every fisherman should know how to do. It’s the first step in getting your fish to taste delicious, after all.

When do you need to clean your fish?

Try and clean your fish within an hour or two of catching it, or at the very least, on the day you catch it – this is true even if you are planning on freezing the fish eventually. If you’ll be out fishing for several days, it will be important you have everything you need to easily clean your catch right there on the spot. Fortunately, you don’t need much to clean a fish.

To clean a fish, you’ll need a sanitary workstation

Dull butter knife, spoon, or fork for removing scales

Pliers if removing skin

Sharp knife for gutting your fish

Bucket to collect your fish guts

Clean ice bucket to collect your clean fish

Newspaper or plastic lining (optional)

Plastic gloves (optional)

Clean running water

Cleaning a fish in 7 easy steps

Step 1: Bleed the Fish

A fish should be bled when you first catch it to preserve the flavor of the meat and to make for a cleaner gutting experience. To do so, make a shallow incision under the fish’s gills. Snap its head back, breaking the spinal cord, then thread a rope through its mouth and out the gills. Allow the fish to bleed out into the water. Put the fresh catch on ice. Keep it there until you’re ready for the next steps.

Step 2: Prepare Your Materials

Lay out some newspaper on your sanitized workspace to help absorb liquids spilling from the fish and onto the floor. Do your fish cleaning outdoors if possible as it’s going to get messy! Use gloves if you prefer and have them handy.

Have your bag or bucket nearby to collect the bones, fins, head, and guts of the fish.

Inspect your fish for signs of diseases, including spots, sores, wounds, and discoloration before proceeding.

Step 3: Remove Scales

Remove the scales from your cold fish using a dull knife, fork, or spoon. From the tail towards the head, use a raking motion working against the direction of the scales. Do both sides of the fish, as well as the top and bottom.

Don’t worry if you can’t remove all the scales (they are not harmful to consume) – just aim for most of them because they don’t taste very good.

If you’re dealing with a thick-skinned fish, consider skinning it instead of descaling. To do this, cut a 1-inch notch where the top of the fish’s head connects to its body. Grip the fish at the head and simply peel the skin down to the tail. Pliers might be needed if the skin is tough.

Step 4: Remove Guts

It’s time to gut your fish. To do so, cut a long, shallow incision along the belly of the fish from the anus to the base of the gills. The incision must be shallow, or you’ll nick the intestines, making them harder and much messier to remove.

Remove the fish guts from the abdominal cavity with your fingers or scoop them out with a spoon. The guts should be easy to remove, albeit unpleasant. Don’t miss anything! There might be darker membranes remaining in certain types of fish. Be sure to scrape these out as well to prevent a strong flavor and aroma from making its way into your meal.

Step 5: Remove Fins and Head

Remove the head of the fish if you plan on doing so. Cut it off from directly behind the gills. Some people choose to leave the head on the fish, and in some cooking methods – for trout especially – the head adds flavor and depth to your dish.

Next, remove the dorsal fin at the bottom of the fish (also optional) by quickly pulling it firmly towards the head. Removing the dorsal fin, if done in a swift motion, removes many small bones from your fish. You can also just cut it off.

Dispose of your fish guts responsibly. If you’re out on the open ocean, toss the guts back in, but if you’re in a residential area/smaller lake, it’s best to wrap these up in the newspaper and dispose of them when you’re back on shore.

Step 6: Rinse or Wipe Down the Fish

Quickly rinse the fish in cold water – inside and out – specifically rinsing off any blood, sticky scales, and other random fish bits. There are no cleaning chemicals required here – just water ought to do it. However, don’t overdo it with the water, or else you end up washing away the flavor of the fish. If you prefer, you can gently wipe the fish with a paper towel rather than rinsing it.

Step 7: Cook Your Fish

Depending on your preferred cooking method, you might have more prep work to do before you can cook your fish, like filleting or cutting it into steaks, and removing its backbone prior to cooking (if you’re not BBQing or baking it whole).

Either way, you’re done cleaning and are well on your way to enjoying your catch of the day!