As a cook, one of the key knives to have in your kitchen tool collection should be a fillet knife, also known as a flexible knife and a fish-filleting knife. A fillet knife looks like a thin knife with a 6 to 8-inch, exceptionally flexible and sharp blade, with some blades able to make a right angle. This flexibility allows you to get next to the bone, so you can cut along curved bones and effortlessly remove the flesh. Use your fillet knife in a number of ways and get the most out of this handy tool.
Clean Freshly Caught Fish
Your fillet knife cleans the fish you catch effortlessly, so you can prepare your catch for storage or for cooking right away. With a clean fillet knife, cut the throat of the fish to bleed it, and then use your knife to make a long cut down the belly, so you can remove the organs and gills. You also need to remove any fat or skin with your fillet knife, since pesticides can build-up in these areas. Make a cut just behind the fish head and pectoral fins to remove them. Remember to always clean your knife between cutting fish with water or alcohol wipes to prevent bacteria from entering the flesh.
Filleting your fish allows you to have boneless slices of fish, which opens the doors for a wide range of recipes. Your fillet knife is ideal for cutting your fish into fillets in a brief amount of time. If you want to skin your fish rather than remove the scales, use your fillet knife to slice through the flesh and cut along the backbone from the tail to the back of the head, cutting down to the collarbone. Fillet your fish by turning your knife so it lies flat and sliding your knife against the ribs all the way down to the tail. Repeat the same process on the other side for another fillet.
On occasions when you need to slice meats into thin slices, such as roast beef, and you do not have a meat slicer in your kitchen, consider using a fillet knife. For example, the Italian beef carpaccio recipes made with tenderloin or sirloin steak require you use an exceptionally sharp knife like a fillet knife to slice beef into wafer thin slices. Make carpaccio using buffalo and venison also. Shaving thin slices of meat can be used in a wide range of recipes, including deli sandwiches.
Butterfly Chicken Breasts
When you need to make thinner cuts of chicken breasts for breading or to roll up, butterfly boneless, skinless chicken breasts using a fillet knife. After cutting a whole chicken breast in half, check the two pieces for any fat or cartilage and cut them out using your fillet knife. Next, begin at the narrow side of the chicken breast and slice it horizontally almost all the way through with your fillet knife, then stop, leaving about 1/2 inch of chicken from the end. This allows you to open up the chicken, like a butterfly or a book, so it looks as if you have one large piece of chicken. According to chef Mark Elia from The Culinary Institute of America, use your butterfly chicken breasts to make recipes like chicken parmesan or chicken marsala.
- Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences Agricultural Research and Cooperative Extension: Proper Care and Handling of Fish from Stream to Table
- Alabama Cooperative Extension Systems: Preparation and Preservation of Alabama Seafood
- Mexican Food Recipes: Beef Carpaccio with Lime Juice and Queso Fresco
- "Mastering Knife Skills: The Essential Guide to the Most Important Tools in Your Kitchen (with DVD)"; Norman Weinstein; 2008
- Kitchen Daily: How to Butterfly Chicken Breasts
- "Kitchen Knife Skills: Techniques for Carving, Boning, Slicing, Chopping, Dicing, Mincing, Filleting"; Marianne Lumb; 2009
- Photo Credit David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images
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