There are three basic preparations for fish: scaling and filleting, then, depending on the recipe, skinning. Scaling should always be your first step; it is an important part and one that people often try to get out of doing, but believe me it must be done – why spoil a beautiful dish just because you cannot be bothered to do the job correctly. If the fish is not first scaled before filleting, then the knife, no matter how sharp it is, will not cut through the scales, which are always very tough. This is not, however, the only reason for scaling; as well as being inedible, scales are also quite loose and some will come off during cooking and removing them from the meat or sauce before serving will consequently be impossible. To scale, hold the fish by the tail using a cloth to keep a grip, then, using the back of a knife, scrape the skin with the knife from tail to head. This is best done over a sink full of water or under running water as the scales do have a tendency to fly off in all sorts of directions. Once scaled, the fish should be rinsed to remove any remaining loose scales.