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How to Fillet a Flounder

Filleting a flounder is simple in concept, but tricky in execution. Its good to be prepared with a very sharp boning knife about 8" long, a honing tool, a large cutting board, and cool running water to keep things clean.

Its important to mention that there are several acceptable methods to fillet a flounder. I'll describe the method I use, which I find to be efficient and does not waste any precious meat. With practice, you might alter this method to suit your preferences.

With the freshly rinsed flounder laying flat on a cutting board with the head facing to your left, make your first cut diagonally from the top of the flounder starting just behind the head, behind the pectoral fin, and all the way to the vent. This should be a relatively straight cut, all the way through the fish.

Discard the head, gills, and viscera, then rinse the fish clean. Cutting through bone will dull your knife quickly, so rinse your knife and give it a couple of passes with a honing tool.

Now, make a clean cut along the lateral line all the way to the tail. Do not cut all the way through the fish, but allow your knife to glide just above or below the backbone ridge, and cut all the way down to the rib cage.

With the blade angled toward you, and using the tip of your knife, make long cuts that run parallel to the lateral line, and remove the meat from the rib cage as you gently pull it back with your free hand. Flounder meat is very delicate and easy to bruise, so be careful not to damage the meat. Also, be very careful making this cut because your free hand is exposed to the sharp edge of your knife. Allow the tip of your knife to pierce through the skin just inside of the skirt at the bottom of the fish. Cut the flesh away from the bone along the top of the lower skirt line all the way toward the tail, but do not cut all the way through at the tail. If you do this properly, there should be little or no meat left above the exposed lower rib cage, and the fillet should still be attached at the tail.

Flip the meat over at the tail so that the skin side is down, and the fillet is positioned from left to right. Rinse your knife and give it a couple of strokes of the honing tool.

Carefully cut through the meat at the tail, but not all the way through the skin. Use your left hand to keep the fish from sliding. With a moderate downward angle of the knife blade make a single clean decisive cut from left to right to remove the fillet from the skin. This can be tricky because the skin is very thin and easy to cut through.

Repeat this process to on the top and back of the flounder to complete the job. When you are finished, you will have four fillets. Rinse them in cool water, then pat them dry with a paper towel. You can place them in a plastic zip lock bag and keep them in the refrigerator if they will be consumed within a day or two. Otherwise, use a Seal-O-Matic and put them in the freezer where they will keep for a couple of months.

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