To scale, use the back of a knife and, holding the fish by the tail, scrape firmly from the tail towards the head. Wash well to remove loose scales. This can be done under running water to prevent the scales from scattering. Fish like carp is difficult to scale, but plunging the fish into boiling water for a few seconds makes scaling easier. Fish are easier to scale before they are gutted
To clean round fish such as mackerel etc., slit the belly from the head towards the vent, remove all the entrails, keeping the roe. Wash well.
To clean flat fish such as sole, the belly is just behind the head. Cut away the gills and make a small opening in the belly. Pull out the gut and wash the fish well. If the head is to be removed do this with a semi circular cut at the base of the head.
To fillet, slit the fish down the backbone with a sharp knife and separate the flesh from the backbone from each side. You can use the bones and trimmings for fish stock or soup.
To ensure that fish does not shrivel up as it cooks, make small incisions in the skin or in the thin layer of nerve tissue beneath the skin.
Fish is done when it flakes or flesh are opaque, falls apart easily and is uniform in color.
Tips : Strong odors on your hands after preparing fish can be removed by lightly wetting your hands and then rubbing baking soda all over the hands. Rinse with water and the smell disappears!