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Getting the last few bones out of a flatheaad fillet


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I know a few fishos who struggle with (or don't bother with) getting a boneless flathead fillet.

When you take the fillet off a flathead it is really easy to run the tip of your knife down one side of the pin bones - down to but not through the skin - then the other. Once you have done this you grab the head-end pin bone and pull towards the tail and you can rip all the pin bones out in one quick movement. Brilliant. But there will be three rib bones in meat behind the belly cavity and these are the ones that many people find too hard.

You certainly don't have to take them out, but I like to, and my wife likes it.

However one tip I can offer is they are much easier to find and remove cleanly after the fillet has been in the fridge for a while. What I do is fillet, remove the pin bones and the skin, then cover the fillets with cling film and put them in the fridge. When I am ready to cook them that is when I go after the three ribs.

If you removed the pin bones as I described above you will have a Y shaped fillet that has three sections. The tail is great for kids as it is guaranteed to be bone free. The shoulder should be as well unless you missed a pin bone (it happens). The belly is the the third section and it is the one with the bones still in it.

On the belly you will be able to see one side has a lining for the gut cavity. Run your fingers over the OTHER side of the belly piece (I.e. the skin side) and you should be able to feel three bones. Because the flesh has firmed up a bit in the fridge they are much easier to find and remove after it has been chilled for a couple of hours.  Use a finger to put a bit of lifting tension on one of the bones and run the tip of your knife down it. Repeat on the other side of the same bone, then just grip it with your fingers and gently pull it straight up. I should come out easily and with minimum flesh attached. Repeat with the remaining ribs.

I find doing this I still miss the odd bone - but my wife tells me that I do better than the so called "boneless, skinless" fillets from the Sydney Fish Markets so I am happy enough with that.


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