A Guide To 9 Different Styles Of Cutting Fish

Fish being an important source of protein and Omega-3 is a crucial part of the diet in many cultures including India. They come in so many varieties that it can be difficult to understand which part of a fish has to be used in a particular recipe. No wonder beginners find it overwhelming. 

The manner in which a fish is cut also helps in making a more diverse and interesting range of seafood dishes at home. Also certain cuts are more ideal for steaming and stewing, while others may not hold together well during grilling. The first part to becoming a professional at cooking fish is that one must master the art of identifying the different parts of the fish and then practise cutting them precisely. Most importantly before using the fish for cooking, one must remove its scales and fins and wash it thoroughly. 

Fish Fillet

The most common style of cutting fish, fish fillets can be purchased both with the skin intact or skinless. Fillets which are a type of boneless cuts, can vary in thickness according to the size of the fish. They are preferred for their ease in cooking and eating. These cuts are the ones most easily found in fish markets and are used in dishes where the fish is shallow fried, deep grilled or used in curries.

Fish Delice

A delice, rather than being a method of cutting fish, is actually one of the ways that a cut fish fillet is trimmed, folded and served with stuffed fillings. Fish varieties like the Choora or Halibut when prepared this way produces a very delicate flavour and texture and are used to create visually appealing decorative dishes like those with cream and caviar toppings. Hence the name ‘delice’ which means ‘delicacy’ in French.

Butterfly Fillets

A type of filleting usually done on small freshwater fishes like Hilsa or Catla, here the backbone is taken out of the fish by splitting the fish along its stomach, so that what remains is 2 fillets of fish attached to each other at the centre. The head and the tail are removed prior to filleting and the ‘wings’ are wide enough to be used for stuffing. Best used to prepare cutlets or when the fish needs to be cooked fast, as this cut cooks evenly. 

Fish Steak/Darne

Usually cut out of large fishes like Rohu, a fish steak is cut perpendicular to the fish spine and holds a lot of flesh in them because of their thickness. A cut that comes with both the bone and the skin on, they are best for grilling because they do not fall apart unlike thinner fish cuts. 

Fish Supreme

Fish varieties used in this cut are the Kingfish Seer and Tilapia. Considered the tastiest of the fish cuts, it is the prime part of the fillet of the large fish and hence consists of the best portions of the fish’s body rather than its sides. It is always boneless, without the skin and cut at a slant. They are most often utilised in gourmet cuisines as they make delicious fish gravies.

Fish Troncon

Fish like the Pomfret and the Halibut which are cut along the bone is called a troncon cut. It is the same as a fish stake except cut out of a flat fish instead of a round fish. A medium-sized Pomfret can yield 4-5 troncons of about 4 cm thickness. In India they are best eaten fried after marinating it in spices. 

Fish Goujon

Goujon is a French word for strips of fish cut lengthways. Cut the fillet of smaller varieties of white fish like Catfish into strips of around 8 cm length and 1 cm thickness. Coat them in flour, beaten eggs, spices and bread crumbs and fry them in oil to enjoy as crispy fish fingers. When these goujon fish cuts are further cut into smaller slices, they are known as goujonettes.

Fish Medallion

This is a fantastic option for those looking for a boneless meal in their seafood menu. Fish medallions are the thick, skinless, round or oval shaped cuts of the lengthwise portions of the larger varieties of fish like the King Salmon. They are perfect for elaborate curries. One can also cook these round cuts by pan-frying it after seasoning them with spices and topping the crust with sesame seeds.

Fish Tail

This is the very end portion of the fish which is usually cut and sold as a separate piece. A tail cut can vary significantly from the head and rest of the fish, taste wise, due to the size of the tail bones and presence of more skin. It has a lot of flavour which comes out best when roasted. The tails of fish like pomfret are a delicacy in India where they are eaten as curries in Assam and West Bengal or simply fried with spices as in Goan cuisine.