Scales are the thin, rigid, overlapping plates that protect the skin of a fish. Before scaling, cover the cutting board with several layers of newspaper. This will help with cleanup. And since it takes several panfish to make a meal, you'll need lots of newspaper because you'll need a fresh sheet for each fish.
Before starting, wash the fish in cool water -- wet scales are easier to remove.
- Lay the fish on its side on the paper.
- Use scissors to cut off the fins so you won't be cut while you work.
- Firmly hold the fish at the tail or head; if the fish is slippery, use a cloth to help keep your grip.
- Starting at the tail, hold a dull knife or spoon at a slight angle and push against the skin toward the head, scraping the scales as you go.
- Make sure to work the edges of the fish and the head.
- Turn the fish over and repeat.
Once you have a fish scaled, set it aside in a shallow pan. Wrap the scales in newspaper and discard. Repeat the procedure for each fish.
Have a strong stomach? Good, because it's time to gut them.