Filleting fish is an important skill for any well-trained chef to have, and when you know how to do this job yourself, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment.
If you’re an angler, or if you enjoy purchasing fresh fish from the market, then a great fish fillet knife will be among your greatest allies in preparing the fish you’ve caught or bought! Here, we’ll take a look at five of the best fish fillet knives available, and provide you with useful tips for choosing a fillet knife that best suits your unique purposes.
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Fish fillet knives tend to be heavily tapered, with sharp points and a lighter feel than many of the other knives you may be accustomed to using. Their shape is essential to your success, allowing you to easily work your way through the delicate, easily torn flesh of fish without causing damage. Here are some factors to look for in a fish fillet knife:
- Sharpness – The best fish fillet knife is going to be extremely sharp, so it slices right through fish without causing any tearing or leaving any jagged edges behind. Remember to hone and sharpen your knife regularly as part of its maintenance; without regular upkeep, even the sharpest fillet knife will eventually lose its edge.
- Stain Resistance – Filleting fish is messy work. While looks aren’t everything, a stain-free knife is definitely an asset: It looks cleaner, both while you’re working and during storage. Look for a knife made with stain resistant alloy if you’re concerned about this, and be sure that you maintain it well. Even the best knives can be subject to staining when they aren’t washed and dried immediately after use.
- Handle Type – Like other types of knives, fillet knives come in a variety of configurations. Look for a handle that offers a good, comfortable grip. Popular options include wood, rubber, and plastic.
- Tang– If possible, choose a fish fillet knife with a full tang rather than a partial one. A full tang will allow you to enjoy greater control during the delicate process of filleting fish, and it will give you better leverage, as well.
- Thin Blade – A thin blade is among the characteristics to look for when shopping for the best fillet knife to meet your needs. Thinness matters since thicker blades have a hard time working their way between the fish’s flesh and bones, and have a tendency to waste meat.
- Flexibility – Like thickness, blade flexibility makes a difference. Too much can lead to a flimsy feel, while too little can make it difficult to bone fish properly. In general, a thin, small blade will be a bit more flexible than a thicker, longer blade.
- Blade Size – Most fish fillet knives come in sizes between 4 and 9.5 inches. The size you choose should depend on the size of the fish you typically work with. If you tend to fillet different-sized fish, then it stands to reason that you might need more than one knife. If you’re looking for just one good all-purpose fillet knife, consider one in the medium range; 6 to 8 inches should suffice.
Tips for Using a Fish Fillet Knife
Not only is it important to choose the best fish fillet knife for the important job of preparing your catch to be cooked, it’s also important to use it the right way. Besides providing pleasing results, the following tips for using a fish fillet knife will help you keep your knife in good condition, protecting your investment and ensuring that you can continue to enjoy it for many years to come.
- Make smooth, clean cuts along the length of the fish. You can find how-to videos on YouTube, and if you’re lucky, you may know an experienced chef or angler who can provide you with an in-person demonstration.
- Learn the anatomy of the fish species you are working on. Knowing where the bones are located will help you get good fillets and prevent you from wasting meat.
- Practice cutting at a slight angle so the knife glides through the fish’s flesh.
- Work slowly and be patient, particularly when you are first starting out. Fish are slippery, so you’ll want to avoid the accidents that can happen when you move too quickly.
- Consider wearing a cutting glove. It will help you keep your grip on the fish and provide protection for your hand.
- Consider using a cleaning board to help hold your fish in place.
- Be sure to keep your fillet knife sharp.
Finally, be sure to treat your knife with care – even a less expensive model will benefit from prompt handwashing and hand-drying, which should be done as soon as you are finished with your fish preparation. Be sure to handle it well, too; its shape is delicate and damage can happen if you’re too rough. With just a little care and careful, considerate storage, the best fish fillet knife for your kitchen today may very well continue to serve you well into the future. We wish you success in your fishing endeavors – as well as in your kitchen!