Most anglers can adequately fillet a redfish or speckled trout but flounder are a little confusing. Do we cut two or four fillets, and where do we start?
David “the surgeon” Ard at the Sea Eagle Market on Boundary Street in Beaufort, who has been cutting fish professionally for 35 years, showed us how to do it right. When he worked in “slow motion” he produced two skin-on fillets in less than a minute.
Ard starts by removing the head, gaining access to the backbone. With the white side up, he inserts his filet knife full length along the thin side of the backbone and slices the meat free from the ribs. He spins the fish 180 degrees, lifts the loose half-fillet, exposing the backbone, and strips the other side from the ribs, producing a single fillet with the skin attached.
The dark-side process is exactly the same. Insert the knife full length along the backbone, strip the meat from ribs, spin the fish and strip the other side from the ribs.
If you like to cook your fillets with the skin on, you would have scaled them before removing the head. If you prefer skinless, the last step is the same as with other types of fish. Lay the fillet on a flat surface, beginning at the tail end and holding the tail with one hand; strip the flesh from the skin in one smooth motion, with slight downward pressure with the knife.