Everyone loves a new gadget in the kitchen, and most people like a nice fillet of fish, so using a new electric knife to clean a freshly-caught salmon or flounder sounds like a good way to spend some time in kitchen.
Why should I clean my own fish?
If you don’t usually clean your own fish, consider this: getting up close and personal with our food is an important part of understanding exactly what we are putting into our bodies. If we don’t know (or care) enough about how we prepare our food, how are we going to cook it to perfection?
The process of cleaning and filleting fish does take a little know-how and skill, but it is certainly not beyond your ability. Once you get to grips with the basics, you will start to surprise yourself. Maybe you’ll even enjoy it enough to pass your knowledge on to friends and family members. Children love to get their hands dirty, and what little boy doesn’t like to see something “cool” for the first time? I remember my dad showing me when I was a kid, and fond memories come back to me every time I clean a fish.
How to clean a fish.
What you will need: an electric knife or fillet knife, a good sized chopping board (the bigger the better), a bowl of cold water, and the fish itself.
The first thing to do is to remove the scales. (This is also the first thing to check if you are served fish with the skin on at a restaurant. If the scales are not removed you may start to wonder what else the chef has forgotten to do!) Simply scrape them off with your fillet knife using a backwards-and-forwards motion, kind of like how you might sand a piece of wood.
Next, take the electric knife and use it to separate the spine from the fillet. Lay the fish on its side and cut into it at a 45° angle where the gills meet the body of the fish. Make a cut about half an inch deep (depending on the fish). You should now have access to the spine from the belly of the fish. Separate the spine from the rib cage from the head right down to the tail, then separate the stomach from the fillet. Take care to avoid piercing the guts with your knife. Finally, peel the meat away from the gills.
Leave the skin or not? That is the question.
It is personal preference whether to leave the skin on or not. I like to leave it on because it provides a protective layer while cooking, and also because I think it looks good and tastes great. If you prefer to remove the skin, do so at this stage by placing the fish skin-side down on the cutting board and running your knife down the inside. Keep the knife as close to the skin as possible without cutting it.
Now you have your filleted fish and it’s time to get cooking! Or, if you aren’t going to prepare the fish right away, you might want to look at our discussion on the best way to store fish in the freezer.
Let’s talk about some of the better electric knives on the market that will let you get to this stage with as little hassle as possible.
What is the best electric knife for cleaning fish?
Cuisinart products are always in the mix when it come to kitchen appliances, and their CEK-40 Electric Knife is no exception. This stainless steel knife looks as good as it performs. It also comes with an attractive wooden storage block and a motor that’s powerful enough for any food-related task. (Please resist temptation and don’t try to trim your hedges with it, though!)
The Rapala Lithium Ion Cordless Electric Fillet Knife is another model that deserves an honorable mention. This electric knife uses lithium-ion batteries, which are are significantly lighter than their NiCad cousins. The reduced weight allows for ease-of-use when performing tricker tasks, like cleaning a fish.
The Mister Twister 120V Electric Knife may well be my favorite! It’s strong, powerful, will do nearly anything you ask of it, and looks awesome to boot! These electric knives have a reputation of lasting up to twenty years. So, you’ll hopefully still be cleaning fish long after your son has left the house and is teaching his son how to do the same thing.
Maintaining your knives.
Your electric knives will probably need sharpening at some point. To do this, unplug the device and remove the blades. You will then be able to run the blades through a sharpener. For additional information about fillet knife sharpeners, see this post.
Going electric? Get yourself an electric skillet too! Here are my picks.
Always use the right knife for the job. These are the best knives for shucking oysters.
Image credit via Flickr Creative Commons: Alpha.