Monday, November 17, 2008

Trout Guts and Fish Heads

Over at a friend's house for bottling butter today and she had a couple of trout she'd been given that were at least 2 days old in her refrigerator. Now, 2 day old trout is okay, but these had not been gutted when they were caught so weren't any good, but we had a little lesson on how to gut a fish anyway. I have to say it was a little strange doing it standing up at a counter instead of kneeling by a creek, but it still worked. Don't get queasy on me here--The Illustrated Guide to Gutting Trout:
Step 1: Turn the fish belly up and get a good hold of it (they're kind of slimy and slippery).

Step 2: Cut from the anus up the middle of the belly to the "V" right behind where the gills come together (about where my left hand is in this picture). A sharp knife of any size will do the trick--you just need to cut through the skin and muscle.

Step 3: Between the jaw and the gills are two soft spots that form a V under the chin. Stick the knife in one side and out the other and cut up so it looks like this:Step 4: Using the hole you just made, grab the jaw in one hand and the lower gill section in the other and pull apart.Step 5: Keep pulling. This will tear off the first pair of bottom fins and pull all the entrails out in one motion.

Last, rinse the inside and outside of the fish and scrape along the inside spine with a fingernail or something else hard and blunt to scrape the majority of the black gunk out. If you are doing this at the river you'll need to wash the fish inside and out again before cooking it when you get to clean water.

At this point, I just cut off the head and cook it with the skin, fins, tail still attached. Season the inside of the fish and then either flour/cornmeal the outside and fry it OR wrap it in tinfoil and bake or barbeque it. Once it is cooked the fins pull out easily taking their bones with them and the meat easily separates from the skeleton of the fish as well--lay the fish on your plate, lift the spine at the neck and tap the meat down with a fork working from the neck to the tail, flip over and repeat. Yummy! I'll have to get some pics of cooked fish and the deboning process when we catch and cook some next . . .

And remember if you've been tossing fish heads into the woods and then decide you need to do some other business out in the same woods, "Check your spot before you squat". ;)


Mariah said...

I have a question -
I was talking to my friend about gutting fish and he said that he always just fillets the fish instead of gutting them and all that. Don't you waste some meat that way?
Is the only reason to gut them to get more meat from them? Or do some fish not fillet well?

Angela said...

The extent of my fishing experience is trout and some pan fish like bluegill/sunfish. I think it's preference and sometimes has to do with the fish type. The bluegill we filleted because I don't think their crazy fins pull out when they're cooked, and their shape makes it hard to just whack the head off. And some folks don't like the fish they're eating or cooking to look like fish, or they don't like the look of the guts, so they fillet it. Maybe a bigger fish would need to be filleted to cook right depending on how you cook it. Maybe that's just how their mom did it and they just figure that's the only or best way to do it. ;) There's probably lots of reasons. You definitely get more meat if you cook bone-in though.