Clean Fish - here's how to get 'em that way
Clean fish is a nice thing to have when you're ready to have a fish fry. There are several sources of contaminants in and on fish, but you can eliminate most of them, and minimize fishy odors and taste by utilizing a prolonged soaking process and a couple of rinses.
Catfish in particular can be a source of trouble. Catfish have slimy skin and this can impart a fishy taste and create an off-color to the meat. Some of this develops if you're not cooking the fish immediately after catching it.
Here's what I do to make my catfish fillets as clean and white as possible. First, I "bleed out" the fish, then fillet it and skin it. Then, I rinse it off quite well before placing it in a bowl of bowl of fresh water. The bowl gets refrigerated, and it either has a cover on it or food wrap is floated over the surface of the water so the fillets don't dry out.
The next day I'll drain the water, rinse the fish in fresh water, and go over the fillets to make certain that all skin, membrane and pieces of internal organs have been removed. Then I refill the bowl and put it back in the refrigerator again, covered, so the fillets aren't exposed to air.
After two days soaking in cold water, the fillets will give up most of their undesirable characteristics and they'll be ready to package for longer term storage in the freezer. I find that taking this approach helps preserve the quality of the meat over several months in the deep freeze.
Before packaging for the freezer, each fillet gets one last rinse. That's how I make certain I have clean fish going home with me in a freezer box.
Two other elements help in creating clean fish when I'm processing catfish fillets for use either as fresh or as something that gets placed in the freezer.
The first is to avoid cutting into the gut sack of the fish when it's being cleaned. If you don't drag the fillets through the entrails (especially what's inside of them), then you'll have less mess to start with. If you do, make certain to rinse well and work out any foreign material before placing the fillet into the bowl to soak.
The second factor that helps achieve clean fish is regular cleaning of the cutting board so the next set of catfish fillets aren't exposed to the gunk that came out of the fish that was just cleaned.
Done with Clean Fish, back to Fishing Tips