Fish and sea food are by far my favorite protein sources and I love to eat them just as much as I love to cook them. I often get so excited when I am in the fish market, that I buy my fish and run back home as fast as I can. Only to realize when I get home, that I forgot to get the fish cleaned at the market! If you ever end up with a fish that needs to be cleaned, don’t be discouraged, it only takes 7 to 10 minutes for a 2 lb fish.
Certain online sources would recommend that you set a table in the backyard and scrape the scales off, then hose them away. That will certainly work, but your backyard will smell like fish for a few days, and the scales will attract flies as well as the neighborhood cats.
It is possible to clean your fish in the kitchen, and here is how to proceed:
Find a dish wide enough to fit your fish and deep enough to soak your fish in water. Then hold the fish with one hand, and scrape the scales with a knife in your other hand, starting from the tail and going up towards the head, one side at a time. Make sure you scrape the scales under the water, otherwise the scales will fly everywhere in your kitchen
Once you have cleaned the scales, cut off the pectoral (side) fins, then locate the fish’s anus with your fingers, insert the knife and cut open from the anus to the head. Get rid of the entrails, and cut off the pelvic fins as well.
Cutting off the fish’s head is optional, I usually do if I am frying the fish, otherwise, I do not. I do however recommend that you don’t cut off the dorsal and anal fins, for a better presentation and also because you may end up with tiny broken bones in your dish.