How to Remove Fish Scales


In order to cook a fish with its skin left on, the scales must be removed. You can use either a large kitchen knife or a fish scaler bought at an outdoors store. Make sure there is running water nearby to continually rinse the fish of loose scales. If the fish has a sharp fin running along its back, it is best to remove it before scaling.

Things You'll Need

  • Rag or newspaper
  • Large, heavy knife or fish scaler
  • Lay a large rag or newspapers on a counter or floor. Create a flat, stable area.

  • Rinse the fish to get rid of mucous. A clean fish is easier to hold.

  • Place the fish on the rag. Grasp the tail with one hand or press the palm of your hand against the fish tail to lock it down.

  • Place the knife just above the tail and run it at a 45-degree angle toward the head. You will be scaling the knife in the opposite direction of how the scales run down the fish. The scales should pop out like loose buttons. Go slowly or the scales will fly out in every direction.

  • Rinse the fish after you have finished one side. Run your hand against the fish to check for scales that you may have missed. Use the knife to remove them.

  • Turn the fish over and repeat for the other side. When you are done, rinse the fish again. Toss the rag or newspapers into the trash.

Tips & Warnings

  • Be careful, rinse often and go slow.

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  • Photo Credit fresh fish at market image by nextrecord from
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