Good Friday is traditionally known as ‘Fish Friday’, as on this day many Catholics abstain from eating meat and instead opt for a lighter fish meal. That said, people of any faith can enjoy freshly prepared fish over the Easter period – after all, that long Easter weekend will free up plenty of time for a fishing trip.
So, if you fancy sharing a platter of freshly caught and prepared fish with your loved ones this Easter, read our easy-to-follow guide to preparing fish fit for a Good Friday meal.
Step 1: Scale your fish
With most fish, the scales will be the first thing to go. To do this, begin by rinsing the fish under cold water, in order to loosen the scales.
Next, lay the fish flat, take hold of the tail and, using the blunt side of a knife, a spoon, or a specialised scaling tool, scrape the scales off the fish, starting at the tail and moving towards the head.
When you have finished, rinse the fish again to remove any particularly stubborn scales. Then, turn the fish over and repeat with the other side.
The only instance in which you do not need to remove the scales first is if you plan to cook the fish whole, with its skin on, then remove the skin before serving. This tactic retains moisture and flavour, and is well suited to certain types of round fish.
Step 2: Gut your fish
Every fishmust be thoroughly gutted before cooking. If you fail to properly gut, or ‘clean’, the fish, then your finished dish could taste bad and may even make you ill.
With round fish, the guts and entrails are located in the belly. To gut the fish, use a sharp knife to open the fish from behind the gills to above the tail.
With flat fish, the guts and entrails are located in a cavity behind the head. You can get at them by making a semi-circular cut from behind the head to just beneath the gills.
With both types of fish, once you’ve opened them up, it’s simply a matter of scraping out the inside using either your hands or a spoon, rinsing the fish beneath cold water and rubbing the internal cavity with salt. The fish should now be completely empty.
Step 3: Skin your fish
As previously mention, not all fish need to be skinned; those that do tend to be flat fish.
However, if you are skinning a round fish, use a sharp knife to make a cut just below the head, then use your fingers to loosen and prise the entire skin off in one big strip on either side, before cutting off.
The process of skinning a flat fish is different. With flat fish, the darker top side of the skin should always be removed, but the lighter side can be left on if desired. To remove the skin, make a cut just above the tail, then loosen and prise off with your fingers before cutting off.
Step 4: Prepare your fish
There are still a few things you need to do to prepare your fish before cooking it. The eyes of the fish should be removed, the fins trimmed and the gills pulled or cut out.
If you plan to eat your fish whole, at this stage it is ready to cook (although some people prefer to cut its head and tail off first).
Alternatively, you may wish to further prepare your fish for cooking – for example, by cutting it into fillets or steaks. This can be a little fiddly, so you may want to watch on online video to make sure you’re doing it right. BBC Good Food has two particularly helpful videos outlining how to fillet a flat fish and a round fish.
Step 5: Cook your fish
And voila – your fish is now ready to cook. Whether you plan to bake, grill, fry or poach it is up to you…
You should now be ready to cook your own fish feast this Good Friday – or, indeed, any day of the year! If this post leaves you feeling inspired, remember that at Keen’s fishing tackle shop you can buy everything you need to catch and prepare your own fish.