While it may be best to leave the big guys to the pros, anyone with a knife and a strong stomach can clean a smaller fish. Here’s how to prepare your fresh-caught catch, or a market-bought whole fish:
1. Wash it.
Use cold water to keep the flesh fresh.
2. De-scale it.
With the fish lying on a cutting board, run the dull side of a knife along its body from tail to gills. Continue until all of the translucent gills have been removed from the body. Rinse the fish under cold water to wash away any scale residue.
3. Cut the belly.
Hold the fish so that its belly is revealed. Using the sharp side of the knife, slice along the belly from the gills to the tail. Keep your cut shallow to prevent damaging the innards.
4. Remove the entrails.
Reach into the fish and pull out the entrails. Be sure to clean out any stray bits clinging to the bones or flesh. If you’re not planning to cook the fish whole, you can also remove the head (from behind the gills) and tail.
5. Rinse and refrigerate.
Wash the fish inside and out under cold water. If you’re not going to cook it right away, store it in the refrigerator for up to two days.