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Thread: Fillet Technique

  1. #1
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    Default Fillet Technique

    I got challenged, for the first time, on my fillet technique and was wondering what other's thought:

    I never fillet until I get home. I catch my fish, rip the gills and bleed it out and then gut (not head) my fish until I get home to my vacuum packer. I leave the head on and just cut off the fillets without messing with heading or tailing the fish whatsoever, leaving the head on makes it easier to manipulate the salmon. I was told by an old-timer the that old school way for freezing salmon was to not fillet at all, but to freeze it whole. I also don't keep belly meat and was a bit chastised for "wasting" that part. Anyone else eat belly meat or fillet differently?
    "He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit is better than he who takes a city." ~ Proverbs 16:32

  2. #2
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    Default fillet

    If I am keeping fish to eat fresh frozen, I will freeze the whole fish, guts and all after bleeding. I will let them freeze for a couple days then dip them in ice, ice cold water to cover them with about a 1/8" ice sheen. Then wrap them in cheap plastic trash bags. Then thaw and fillet during the winter for the freshest frozen you can have. Thawing has to be slow like in a refrigerator for a day or two everything stays firm. I do trim belly fat but not meat. It is the first thing I eat off the grill.
    I am filleting for canning I will take off both sides, trim belly fat, skin, and scrap the backbone for remaining meat. Magpies would have a tough time finding a meal when I get done. The scraped meat cans just as well and adds up when you have a bunch of dipnet fish. One person will do this in our assembly line for processing. I don't worry about any bones for canning as they get desolved. I haven't dipped for a couple years but the jars of fish are getting low and its time to go again.

  3. #3
    Member Arctic Hunter's Avatar
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    Default Same as you...

    Back Country, except that I keep the belly meat. I fillet, then cut the belly & put it aside. I save the belly for the smoker, eats up just like candy. Like the idea of scraping the rest off the meat off the backbone for the canner, might give that a try this year. I vacuum seal most of my Kenai dipped reds and save the canning for the nice fat PWS Silvers I get in Aug/Sept. Its almost time to jar last years fish to make room for this years catch.
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  4. #4

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    I will fillet some and freeze some whole for the BBQ. The filleted pieces will be v-packed with the skin out so save any freezer burn. Probably overkill on my part. I do keep and eat the belly meat. My biggest aggravation when learning to fillet was wasting any meat. I even feel guilty about the 1/8 of meat left above the back bone.

  5. #5
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    Default backbone scraping and bellies

    I am headed to Chitina a week from Wednesday. I usually go in June, but decided to try later this year ( hope that wasnt a HUGE mistake). I read on a forum about people keeping the belly meat and the meat above the backbone for the smokers. The statement was that it was there "treat" for during/after all the processing.

    I have to admit, I have never kept the bellies, the bit at the top, or sccraped carcasses, however, I believe this is the year to change.

    I havent read ONE rreprt of Chitina thats current.. c'mon folks.. speak up!

  6. #6

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    The belly meat, in my opinion, is the best part of the fish. It has the highest concentration of oils also. I love to smoke the belly strips and eat them like candy. They also jar up really well.

    I have heard of people who freeze their fish whole, but I like to get the guts out as soon as possible. The reason is the stomach usually has worms in it and the longer the guts are inside a dead salmon, the faster the worms spread to the surrounding meat.

    My dipnetting method is catch salmon, hit on head, cut gills, put on stringer. Then right when I am leaving, I will take off head and gut, pack out to O'brien creek, rinse and put on ice. Then I will fillet back home where it is a nice clean area. I jar most of the catch, but the fillets I put in the freezer are placed meat to meat and double wrapped with heavy polly wrap(way cheaper than vacuum packing) then placed in the freezer. I lose very little if any meat from freezer burn doing my fish this way. Been doing this for many years with no problems.

    CubeCove

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    Default

    Cubecove,

    you got a recipie (or at least some instruction) on how you can bellies? Do you smoke them first?

  8. #8
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by cubecove View Post
    The belly meat, in my opinion, is the best part of the fish.

    CubeCove
    Agreed. Love the belly meat!

  9. #9

    Default

    Belly meat on a salmon is like the cheeks on a halibut, the best part of the whole fish. The lower fins on a salmon are super full of oil and for smoking, we always always saved those out and smoked them too. Called them wings, good stuff.

  10. #10
    Member AKBighorn's Avatar
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    Default

    I have seen many people fillet a salmon and do a fine job with the first side but after removing that fillet they tend to slaughter the second side. Leaving the first side attached at the belly and then rolling the fish over helps keep the fish laying in a more natural position to aid in getting a nice fillet on the second side. It's not necessary to do it this way but it may help. I think it is also easier to leave the guts in for the same reason, the fish lays flat or in a natural state and makes for easier filleting imo. When on the water we just rip a gill and let them bleed out.

    As far as the belly thing, to me its like eating fat off a steak or chicken or anything else that may resemble that. I don't like fat or bellies but then again I always hear how picky I am with food. Just my .02.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by jjwillac View Post
    Cubecove,

    you got a recipie (or at least some instruction) on how you can bellies? Do you smoke them first?
    I will usually take about the bottom 2 to 3 inches of the fillet off in a long strip. Then I split it in half so the belly fins are on one strip and the thin section of the fillet is the other strip. Cut them about an inch shorter than your pint jar. Then marinade them in a brine for a few hours then smoke them for 2 to 3 hours or until they start to firm up, then Can them like you would any other salmon. I don't add any salt or oil or anything because there is plenty of oil in the meat itself. Make sure you have plenty of napkins when you eat this. It is excellent on ritz crackers with cheddar cheese or avocado slices. You can also make a salmon spread out of it if you add 1/3 package of cream cheese and just enough mayonaise so it spreads easy.

    Brine:
    3 cups water
    1 cup soysauce
    1/4 cup plain salt
    1 cup brown sugar
    2 TBSP Garlic powder
    2 TBSP Onion powder
    1 TBSD tobasco sauce

    Mix well. I will add a little here and there to get the exact flavor I am looking for. Not overly salty, not too spicy and slightly sweet. I have never had any complaints with the salmon I smoke. In fact most people can't stop eating it even when they want too.

    Let me know if you need any other help with this.

    CubeCove

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