Boning Round Fish for Stuffing

Appears in
The Cook's Companion: A step-by-step guide to cooking skills including original recipes

By Josceline Dimbleby

Published 1991

  • About
Stuffing a whole boned round fish makes an interesting and attractive meal. This can either be done by boning from the back (keeping the fish attached at the belly), or, as is more usual, by boning from the belly, shown here. You can either leave the head on or remove, as you like.
Use this technique for herring, mackerel, haddock, whiting and trout. Rinse the fish well with cold running water after boning, taking care to remove all the dark blood along the backbone, which causes a bitter taste.
  1. Remove the gill flap and fins if you have not cut off the head. If the fish has not been gutted, cut it along the belly to the tail and open it up. Rinse well with cold running water. Use your fingers or a small sharp knife to free each of the long rib bones.

  2. When the rib bones are free on each side, run a sharp knife down either side of the backbone, scraping it free of flesh and not cutting through the skin. Make sure all small bones are removed. Along the backbone it is easier to free the flesh with your fingers.

  3. Cut the backbone at each end with a sharp pair of scissors. Lift out the bone and save it for using in the stockpot, if you like; do not use bones from oily fish, such as mackerel, for making fish stock as the flavour is too strong and the stock could be oily.