How to Fillet a Cod

Catching a cod can be as simple as casting out some braided line with a bait, but
filleting it is a whole different story, more so as the process itself calls
for more finesse on your part.

First, you must understand how to get it done right, otherwise you won’t be retaining enough
meat to sustain a side dish. Worth mentioning is that a freshly cut cod tastes
so much better compared to a pre-cut one. To maintain the freshness, it’s
recommended that you clean the cod first and fillet it shortly after catching
it. Whether you’re out camping or in your own kitchen preparing a cod fish meal
on your own, you might want to learn how to properly fillet the fish to
maximize your catch and avoid wasting much of the meat.

Here’s a simplified, step-by-step guide on how to fillet a cod:

Step 1: Clean the Fish and Place it on a Cutting Board

You can start by washing the fish in cold water. Once done, place it on a clean cutting
board or chopping board and use a sharp knife to cut off its head right at the
gill section. To avoid forcing your way through the fish, which can lead to
injury, it’s recommended you avoid using a dull knife.

Step 2: Cut through the Fish

After you’ve cut the head off, the next thing you do is hold the fish by the tail while it’s
resting on its side and cut it through by moving the knife away from you. Try
to position the knife near the center of the fish to make it appear like you’re
trying to divide the fish into two.

To put it quite differently, you’re basically trying to divide the cod fish into two —
the left and right half. The cut should pass just above the ribs of the fish,
which you should be able to feel as you run the knife over. Which is to say,
the ribs are meant to direct you on how to move your knife.

Step 3: Pull the Bones Out

Once you’re done cutting through the fish, you can go ahead and separate the fillet you’ve
just cut from the rest of the fish’s body. Next, check the fillet for any trace
of bones. In which case, the bones will be looking like small pieces of white
plastic. You can use a fork to gently remove them from the fillet.

Step 4: Separate the Skin and Scales from the Fillet Meat

At this point you’re free to separate the skin from the rest of the fillet meat by
cutting it away. Just run the knife right under the skin of the fish as you
gently try pulling it away starting from the front section of the fish all the
way to the back. It’s important to make sure that the skin is only a thin layer
with little to no trace of meat sticking to it from underneath.

Step 5: Turn the Other part of the Fish and Repeat the Process

You’ve successfully filleted the first half of the cod fish. Now turn to the remaining
part. You can start by turning it such that the cut section will be resting on
your cutting board. At this point, you can revisit the guide right from step 1
and repeat the procedure again, one by one until you’re left with a second
piece of a boneless and skinless cod fish fillet.

Video on how to fillet a cod

What to Observe while Filleting a Cod 

1. Make sure the chopping board you’re using is clean. It’s
also suggested that you place the board on a damp piece of cloth, placed
underneath the board, to prevent it from moving while you’re filleting your

2. Always use a sharp knife, particularly one with a flex on its blade.

3. While cutting the fish, make sure you’re moving the knife away from you for a smooth
cutting and to avoid causing unnecessary injuries.

4. Learn to put adequate pressure on the blade as you slide it through the fish. The
pressure should be directed downwards to maximize the yield but be extra
cautious while at it to avoid applying too much pressure.

5. Learn to maintain clean strokes while running the blade through the fish. The more confident you are while
cutting through the fish, the better quality the fillet.

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