Buying Processed Fish Versus Cutting Them Yourself

Most food service establishments purchase fish in the forms in which they intend to cook them.They find it less expensive to pay the purveyor to do the cutting than to hire and train the personnel and to allocate the storage and workspace to do it in-house. Some restaurants still buy whole fish. Here are a few reasons why they do:

1. Their clientele demands it. Some high-priced luxury restaurants stake their reputations on using only the freshest, most unprocessed ingredients.They are able to charge enough to cover their high labor costs.

2. They are in the heart of a fresh fish market, where fresh whole fish, delivered daily, are economical.They can best take advantage of seasonal bargains.

3. They are high-volume specialty restaurants and find it more economical to clean the fish themselves and watch the market for the best prices every day.

4. They make fish stocks and use the bones.

5. They serve the whole fish. Examples: sauteed or poached trout presented whole; whole cold poached fish as a buffet display.

Your purchasing decisions will depend on what you plan to do with the fish and what forms are most economical for those purposes.

(d) Steaks: cross-section slices, each containing a section of backbone

(e) Fillets: boneless sides of fish, with skin on or off

(g) Sticks or tranches: cross-section slices of fillets

(f) Butterflied fillets: both sides of a fish still joined, but with bones removed

(g) Sticks or tranches: cross-section slices of fillets

(f) Butterflied fillets: both sides of a fish still joined, but with bones removed

Figure 14.2 Dressing a fish.

Figure 14.2 Dressing a fish.

(a) Scale the fish. Lay the fish flat on work surface. Rub a scaling tool or the back of a knife against the scales from tail to head. Repeat until all scales are removed. Rinse. (Exceptions: Trout, with very tiny scales, and scaleless fish, like catfish, are not scaled.)

(b) Eviscerate. Slit the belly and pull out viscera. Rinse cavity.

(d) Remove head. Cut through flesh just behind gills. Cut or break backbone at the cut and pull off head.

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