You asked for it, so here it is: how to filet a fish! Grab your Global filet knife and a whole branzino or trout and learn how to use the fish from head to tail. We’re going to make a tangy ceviche, pan-seared fish with a simple but delicious pan sauce and use the head and bones to make fumet (stock).
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 127 minutes
*Your Chef will lead you through all the techniques, so prepping ahead of class is optional
- 1 whole branzino or trout, 2 to 3 pounds
Ingredients for the ceviche:
- 1/2 to ¾ pound skinless fish filet (1 filet from above fish), diced in ½ inch pieces
- 3/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/4 cup fresh orange or lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 shallot or small yellow onion, minced
- 1 serrano or jalapeno, minced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- kosher salt, to taste
Ingredients for the seared fish:
- 1 skin-on filet from above fish
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil, such as canola, avocado or grapeseed
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/2 small lemon, zest and juice
- fresh thyme sprigs
- kosher salt, to taste
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Ingredients for the fumet (fish stock):
- 3 cups vegetable scraps, such as onion skins, celery tops, carrot tops, fennel scraps, leeks
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- head and bones from the above fish, rinsed under cold water
- handful fresh herbs, such as thyme or parsley
- water, to cover
- To filet the fish: Rinse the fish under cold water and pat dry. Remove the innards, if needed, but making a 3 or 4 inch long incision on the belly. Use your hands to pull out the innards, then pull out the gills, if needed. Remove the scales, if needed, using the back of a knife or a fish scaler and scraping the opposite direction of the scales. They will fly everywhere so this is best done in a large sink or outside.
- Using a sharp filet knife, cut along the collar of the fish until the blade hits the spine and the flesh has been released from the collar. Turn the knife so that it is parallel with the spine. Gently hold the head in place and cut along the spine in a back and forth motion. Make sure you have the fish positioned so that you are cutting away from your body, not towards it! Place the filet on a tray, flip the fish over and repeat. The second side will be a little more challenging, but you go this. Save the head, spine and fins for the fumet.
- Use fish tweezers (or household tweezers that are washed and sanitized) to pull out the pin bones. Run a finger along the center of each filet, beginning with the head part and working towards the tail; you will feel the bones. Pulling in an upwards motion, remove each pin bone and discard.
- To make the ceviche: Put the diced fish in a medium bowl and pour the citrus juices over it. Use a spoon to stir it until just combined. Ensure that all of the fish is submerged in citrus juice- if not, add more as needed. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes but up to 4 hours or until the fish is cooked all the way through (it will be opaque rather than the translucent-like color it is raw).
- Drain most but not all of the citrus juice before adding the olive oil, shallot, chili and cilantro. Stir until combined then taste and add salt as needed. Serve with tortilla chips or tostadas.
- To sear the filet: Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat with the oil in the pan. Season both sides of the fish filet with salt and pepper. When the oil is shimmering and hot carefully place the filet in the pan skin-side down. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until the skin is browned and beginning to crisp. Lower the heat to low and use a fish spatula to flip the fish. Place the butter and thyme in the pan and carefully swirl it around. Allow it to cook for an additional 2 or 3 minutes, until the fish is just cooked through. Remove the filet to a plate. Finish the sauce by adding the lemon zest and juice. Taste and season as needed. Remove the thyme sprigs before spooning the sauce around the fish-not on top of it so that the skin will stay crispy. Serve immediately.
- To make the fish fumet: In a 4 quart Dutch oven or large pot place the vegetable scraps, peppercorns, fish head and bones and herbs. Pour in enough water to cover everything. Place the pot over medium heat and bring to just under a simmer. Cook for 2 hours. Pour the fumet through a strainer and allow it to cool. The fumet can be poured into airtight containers and frozen for up to 6 months. Use anywhere water or stock is called for in recipes.