Video: How to Scale a Fish

In our Basics series, we tackle the simple kitchen tasks; no job is so small that it doesn’t deserve to be done perfectly.

By SAVEUR Editors

Published on March 18, 2019

Most edible fish have tough, inedible scales, and if you buy a whole fish, your fishmonger will usually scale it for you. If you’re buying from local markets or using fresh-caught, however, you might just need to do it yourself. Fortunately, with some very affordable tools, it’s easier than it sounds:

  • Start with a very fresh, gutted fish.
  • To contain the mess, work inside a large plastic bag because once you start, scales will be flying.
  • Trim off the fins first with kitchen shears.
  • Using a fish scaler, scrape the fish against the grain. Repeat on both sides until all scales have come out; the fish skin will feel smooth when you rub it against the grain and you can wipe away the excess with a clean towel.
  • Now it's ready to fillet or cook whole!

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