by Stephen Booth •
Filleting flathead is one of those things most newcomers find a little difficult. And let’s face it, they are pretty weird looking fish. But they taste great, are reasonably abundant along the east coast and there are ways to make the most of your catch. The following is how I was taught to clean flatties by an ex-commercial fisher when I lived in Victoria. It’s quick, easy and maximises the fillet yield. And these are all important because you don’t want to be wasting fish. So if you’re keen on getting some boneless, tasty flathead fillets on your plate, check this method out and give it a go if you’re struggling with filleting flathead. You can check out a short video we made of this process at the bottom of this page.
Step 1. Make a cut diagonally between the pectoral fins to the spine.
Step 2. Turn the knife edge towards the tail then run the knife along the backbone, cutting through the rib cage bones and exiting at the tail. The fillet is now removed from the fish.
Step 3. There is a small gap between the skin and the flesh just in front of the pectoral fin left on the fillet. Insert your finger or thumb in here and push the flesh away from the pectoral fin.
Step 4. The pectoral fin now acts like a convenient handle providing a grip so you can peel the flesh from the skin, moving towards the tail.
Step 5. Your fillet is now skinless.
Step 6. Feel for the last rib cage bone and run your filleting knife down the tail side of this bone. This will give you a tail fillet with no bones – perfect for the kids.
Step 7. Run the knife along the rib cage bones on the non-stomach side and remove the boneless fillet.
Step 8. Run the knife along the rib cage bones on the stomach side and remove the fillet. This leaves the rib cage bones to be disposed of or used for crab bait.
Step 9. There are two (sometimes three) floating bones in this last fillet that need to be removed. You can cut them out, use tweezers or your fingers to remove these floating bones, leaving a third boneless fillet.
Repeat these steps on the other side of the fish, giving you six prime, boneless, skinless and scale-free fillets.