How to Clean Panfish

Removing Scales from Panfish

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.

  1. Lay the fish on its side on the paper.
  2. Use scissors to cut off the fins so you won't be cut while you work.
  3. Firmly hold the fish at the tail or head; if the fish is slippery, use a cloth to help keep your grip.
  4. 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.
  5. Make sure to work the edges of the fish and the head.
  6. 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.