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Thread: Saving salmon bellies

  1. #1

    Default Saving salmon bellies

    I have just recently learned that the bellies are the most tasty ppart and are great for smoking. I was wondering what the best way to fillet is while saving the belly. The way I normally fillet makes it hard to save. And if anyone has pictures of the finished product(the belly that is) that would be great.

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    Member garnede's Avatar
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    It might help to tell us how you filett. If you leave the bellies on an ungutted carcas then ith is easy to take the collar and belly off together and smoke both. If you do normal, split the fish down the middle to gut, then just run your blade down the end of the rib bones and remove the belly in 2 pieces.
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    Member B-radford's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by garnede View Post
    If you do normal, split the fish down the middle to gut, then just run your blade down the end of the rib bones and remove the belly in 2 pieces.
    This is the method i use and i find that you come out with pieces of salmon that are easier to eat and smoke.

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    Here is how I do it.

    Point the fish head opposite of the had you use to cut. I am right handed so the head points left. Cut behind the front fin to the backbone. Lay knife flat against backbone and cut all th eway down the back to the tail. Flip the fish over, repeat. No gutting. Also, it is a HUGE help to have gilled the fish upon catch so they bleed out, it is way less messy.

    Once both fillets are removed, the belly is left, along with occasionally a piece running along the back, as well as the collar. Simply slice the belly off just before the anus, cut the collar off the head and the strip along the back bone.

    i put all of these "scraps" in a bag for special attention upon smoking. It is what the Grillmeister uses along with a cold one or 3 to help the process along

    There are other way that are probably better, but when I am done, there is very little meat on the fillet, and it is fast, which to me is essential as i catch those fish in places I woudl rather not linger on most occasions like Chitna nd Vadez in August

  5. #5

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    I cut the fish down the middle then fillet the same as fairbanksbowhunter explains. Problem is it seems like the only thing left on the belly is cartilage, skin, a fin, and a very small amount of meat. Maybe thats what its supposed to look like, but i just figured there was a better way. Is there any cleaning/trimming done to the belly or does it pretty much look like i explained when done?

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    Default Sounds about right.

    I am mainly talking about reds and silvers, and there isnt more than a 1/4" of meat, but when you smoke it , it is like bacon. It is the fatty part of the fish. Usually I have a strip about 6" long with a set of fins in the middle (pectoral fins I think) I just ignore them when nibblin.

    My wife LOVES these, the kids do to, that is why I make them do a run to town while I smoke them so that I am SURE to get mine first But I usually have a bag of bellies that I freeze to put on the smoker after or during the moose hunt, and through the winter, that is assuming the fishing season was good.

  7. #7

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    Well I wish I wouldve been saving them the whole summer. I've kept around 40 reds this year and I'm about to have my first smoking session, would be nice to have 40 bellies to smoke. Guess I'll have to go get a few more tomorrow before I sstart smoking.

    Thanks for the help guys.

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    Smoked bellies are my absolute favorite!When I fillet my first side I leave all the bellie meat on the carcass and then when I fillet the other side I just cut the bellie off of that side so I just have one full piece of bellie meat.Both fillets come out perfect.I usually score alot of extra bellies because most people don't realize how good they are!

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    Member akcowgirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FairbanksBowHunter View Post
    Here is how I do it.

    Point the fish head opposite of the had you use to cut. I am right handed so the head points left. Cut behind the front fin to the backbone. Lay knife flat against backbone and cut all th eway down the back to the tail. Flip the fish over, repeat. No gutting. Also, it is a HUGE help to have gilled the fish upon catch so they bleed out, it is way less messy.
    We do it like above but instead of ending up with two pieces we end up with one large piece that looks a little like butter fly wings then we trim the narrow part(the belly) to be about a inch to an inch and half wide strip. Then we BBQ them or smoke them.

    Hopefully we will be getting a few tonight so I will try to take pictures.
    Take care of the earth. It was not given to you by your parents. It was loaned to you by your children.

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    Member akcowgirl's Avatar
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    Here is a pictorial of the way we do it.




    Take care of the earth. It was not given to you by your parents. It was loaned to you by your children.

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    Member akcowgirl's Avatar
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    Take care of the earth. It was not given to you by your parents. It was loaned to you by your children.

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    Member akcowgirl's Avatar
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    It may not be the best way to do it but it works great for us.
    Take care of the earth. It was not given to you by your parents. It was loaned to you by your children.

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    Sweet pictorial. Thanks alot.

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    Member AKGUPPY's Avatar
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    Don't forget the throats. They're yummy too!

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    I will be in Alaska starting this Saturday. I plan to bring home an AMPLE supply of salmon, halibut, & ling cod. On the trips I took before 2008 (3 previous) I did not even consider bringing home the collars and bellies of the salmon. Did not see any use for them (OK .....SO I'M AN IDIOT!!!!!) This year will be the year I finally put together my smoker for fish. All those previously discarded (IDIOT!!!!!) will be the Creme d LaCreme of my future use.

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    No offense to anyone here, but it does amaze me the number of people that don't eat the belly. I gut my fish then fillet by starting at the head and cutting the ribs off with the fillet. For fresh fish I'll leave the ribs on and just peal the bones off after they are grilled. Saves a lot of meat and then I don't end up with 1/4 inch this pieces.
    I'd agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.

  17. #17

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    just yesterday i became enlightened to the no-gutting style of filleting, practiced on 18 reds, and realized immediately how much meat it saves. however, is there a trick to getting around the lump of cartilage inside the pec fins? cook and pick apart later? anybody?

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    A friend and I used to bake the carcass and pick the meat off while we were packing fish. It sure is a tasty snack while' you're working.
    I'd agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.

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    This is just the way we do it. We love the bellies and make it a point to save all of them. First I hold the the fish vertical (the way it swims) by the tail and the head away from me, then cut the 2 top fins off. Next flip the fish over cut, the belly off starting from just the anus and cutting forward toward the head. Then lay the fish on its side and fillet as usual. What your left with as far as belly goes it a nice u-shaped piece of meat, just dont forget to get out the little bit guts that are left in the belly.

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