Ever eat boneless skinless chicken breast? It’s usually pretty lackluster without excessive seasoning or some sort of sauce. The same applies to fish. While fish fillets tend to have more moisture and flavor than chicken but, just as bone-in chicken or meats have more flavor and moisture, so does fish when it’s cooked whole.
When we say whole we mean head on (yes eyes, too), tail on and bones IN. Servers need to always convey this information up front because it often happens that someone will send the fish back because it has a head and BONES. (enter cricket soundtrack) It is a bit trickier to eat a whole fish but it is well worth the effort for the “whole” experience. We hope that with the following pointers you can indulge in a whole fish soon.
How to do it:
1. Your fish should be descaled meaning that the scales have been scraped from the skin before cooking. Eating the skin is part of the experience and scales in your mouth do not add to your please. Fish skin is lower in fat than chicken skin and the fats that are found in fish are high in the beneficial omega-3 oils
2. For some fish you might want to cut along the dorsal and ventral fins and remove those bony pieces before removing the filet from the ribs. There really is no reason to apply the Dover sole method to smaller fish like snapper, small grouper, trout, bass, sardines, etc. In these cases using your fork or butter knife to scrape the meat from the bones should be enough. Start just beneath the dorsal (back) fins with the prongs of your fork and pull toward the ventral (belly) fins. It’s that simple. DO watch for bones because it is, ahem, a whole fish (see definition above)
3. When you are satisfied that you have finished the entire filet on the first side then flip your fish over and repeat on the other side.
4. If you are a more adventurous diner try the well cooked fins which are made of smaller bones and should be crispy. Some people eat these like potato chips.
That’s about it. Don’t be shy, poke round the head, often there is tasty meat in the jowls. A good place to find whole fish and other seafood delicacies and delights is Square One fish Co. in Athens, GA. Yes, Athens, GA. These folks are from the Florida coast and if they are cooking your fish they are cooking it right. Check them out @ www.squareonefishco.com