How to: Fillet a flatfish at the table

Grilled Brill served on plate as a sharing dish at Faber


It may seem a challenge, but bringing a whole fished served up on a plate to the table is a great centrepiece and makes for an interactive experience, a talking point for everyone, plus you get to show off. 


To do this you’ll need: A fork, spoon, sharp knife, spare plate and a napkin, things can get messy. 


Before you even get started you need to let the fish rest, it needs to relax, don’t worry if it’s on the bone, it won’t get cold. Once rested, ideally 3-5mins it’s time to tackle at the table. 


Start with making a shallow incision along the top of the fish, just behind the head. This cut will expose the backbone. Use spoon to carefully cut along one side of the backbone, we prefer to serve our fish belly up- so it will be nice and easy to see that backbone line, follow that line and begin to separate the fillets on each side.


Get underneath each fillet. Lift the first fillet gently with the knife, separating it from the bones. Use the spoon to hold the fillet in place as you work. If the fish is cooked well, no meat should stick to the bone, it should slide off nice and easily. Pay attention to the tail and belly areas, which may have smaller bones. Use the boning knife to carefully detach the fillets from these areas.


Once you’ve worked your way along the backbone and ribcage, carefully lift the fillet away. Use the fork to guide the fillet, and the spoon to help detach any sections still clinging to the bones. Repeat the same on the other side of the fish. 


After removing the fillets, inspect them for any small bones that may have been left behind. Run your fingers along each fillet to check for any pin bones that may have been missed. You can use clean hands or a knife to carefully remove any remaining bones.


Use the spare plate (a warm plate is preferrable to put the fish meat onto. Once finished you can remove the original plate and bones from the table. 


Now you can enjoy, you’ve impressed your guests and served like a pro. 


The perfect flat fish from your local fishmonger: Dover Sole, Lemon Sole, Megrim, Brill, Plaice, Turbot, Flounder & Witch. 

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