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> Trout > De-boning
I love catching trout, and there are some great recipes out there
for cooking your catch. One thing that I've never liked about
eating trout is picking through all the tiny bones present in their
meat. A while back I learned a trick to cut out the strip of
meat that contains the bones. Some people think that this
wastes meat, but I don't throw it away. I grind the strip of
meat with bones up in my meat grinder and make fish patties out of
If you properly fillet a trout the only bones that should remain
are the bones that stick out of the sides of the fish. These are
called the pin bones and are present in all trout, salmon and other
related species. With large trout or salmon you can actually
pull out the pin bones with a pair of pliers. The problem with
trout is that they are often too small and the bones will end up
breaking off when you try to pull them out.
Fillet your trout with the skin still in place. After you
finish the fillet, run your fingers along the meat starting at the
head towards the tail end. You should be able to feel some small bones
sticking out from the center of the fish. Running your finger
or a knife along the bones will help to make them stick out so you
can see them.
Now here is the tricky part. You want to cut out only the
section of meat that contains the bones without wasting any other
meat. The key is understanding the anatomy of the fish.
Pin bones stick out from the center of the fish and go up at about a
30 degree angle from the spine towards the outer skin. These bones only
go about 2/3 of the way down the fish starting at the head and
disappearing around where the anal fin starts.
The trick is to make an angled cut on either side of the pin
bones that goes from the head to the section where the bones
- Make your first cut just below the bones from the head to
where they end
- Do not cut straight down but cut at about a 30 degree
angle towards the back of the fish
- Go all the way down to the skin but do not cut the skin
- If you feel the knife hitting bones try changing
the angle or move the cut back a little to give yourself a wider
- Make your second cut on the top side of the bones following
the same angle
- Your finished cuts should create thin strip of meat that contains the bones
- Use your
fingers to scoop out the strip of meat containing the bones from the
head towards the tail. It will separate from the skin leaving
you with a boneless fillet.
What to do with the bones?
Don't waste the strip of removed bones and meat! Pressure can it to dissolve the bones, or smoke it and pluck out the bones afterwards. Or grind the strip of meat with bones in a meat grinder and make fish patties out of it. I just freeze the left over pin bones
from each batch of cleaning fish and freeze them. Once I have enough
built up for a canning batch, I can them
The Finished Product
Your finished product should look something like the photograph
shown below. Notice the strip down the center of the fish
where the bones have been removed. Now your fillet is ready to
hit the grill!