Break It Down
You don’t have to do it all yourself: Ask for your fish head-on, but scaled and gutted, with fins removed. At that point, all you need is a big cutting board, a few sharp knives, and these instructions
Off with its head
Lay the cod on a large, washable cutting board, and use a heavy, sharp cleaver or chef’s knife to cut off the head, starting about 2 inches behind the gills. Apply some force through the backbone. Put the head in a bowl; cover and refrigerate.
Remove the fillet
Rotate the fish 180 degrees. Turn the knife toward the head to remove the fillet in one piece. (As you cut, lift up the flap to see better.) Divide the “captain’s cut”—the thicker twothirds—from the “mate’s cut,” the thinner end. Carefully cut away the skin on the thicker fillet.
Beginning a third of the way from the tail, with the spine of the fish facing you, poke a fillet knife through the spine side and underneath the fillet. Cut toward the tail, easing the blade under the fillet against the bones until you have created a flap.
Clean and repeat
Flip the fish and repeat on the second side. Tweeze out any pin bones from each fillet. Hold the fillets up to a light to check for worms and remove. (It’s a reality of nature that some cod will have them. They are completely safe to eat, though, if you miss one.)
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