How to Fillet a Whole Fish with Below Deck’s Chef Ben

Ben Robinson shows us how to break down a whole red snapper, then turn it into sushi, sashimi, ceviche — and more!

Ben Robinson Whole Cleaned Snapper, as seen on Food Network Kitchen.

Photo by: Felicia Perretti

Felicia Perretti

Get a Premium Subscription to the Food Network Kitchen App

Download Food Network Kitchen to sign up and get access to live and on-demand cooking classes, in-app grocery ordering, meal planning, an organized place to save all your recipes and much more.

If the idea of breaking down an entire fish terrifies you, know you're not alone.

Before catching Ben Robinson's class on the Food Network Kitchen app, I would have been the first to admit that the whole process seems way too intimidating to even attempt. Granted, I have never gone fishing and grew up in a seafood-less household. I only recently graduated from ordering the occasional salmon dish at restaurants to keeping fish fillets in my freezer at all times.

But that's the beauty of Ben's class. He teaches us how to take a whole red snapper and turn it into tonight's dinner — all while making it feel approachable and (surprisingly) simple. You may recognize chef Ben Robinson from Bravo's Below Deck, the reality series that provides a behind the-scenes look into the lives of the people who work aboard mega-yachts. Ben, of course, serves as the executive chef, creating gorgeous dishes out on the open water. He brought his culinary skills on land (to the Food Network Kitchen studio, specifically) to teach the course Raw Fish Made Easy. Before demonstrating how to make ceviche, fish crudo and sushi, he shows us how to break down a snapper in just three easy-to-follow steps. His class left me feeling far more confident and prepared than frantically Googling "what do I do with this whole fish?!" ever could. Here's how chef Ben preps a whole fish, and how you can, too:

Ben Robinson Whole Cleaned Snapper, as seen on Food Network Kitchen.

Photo by: Felicia Perretti

Felicia Perretti

1. Remove the Fins and Scales

As you might have guessed, this step can get messy fast. Fortunately, Ben shares his secret for keeping things clean and tidy, inspired by his 10+ years of experience cooking on yachts: Use a plastic bin filled with water to catch all of the scales. No bin? You can use your sink, but be careful not to clog the drain with scales.

2: Fillet the Fish

Easier said than done, right? Don't worry. Ben walks us through this whole process step by step, so it's easy to follow along as he slices into the fish and cuts the fillets. Pro tip: Save the skeleton to make a flavorful stock!

3: Remove the Pin Bones

Anyone who has bitten into a bone while eating a fish dish knows how unpleasant it is. Ben gently runs his fingers over the flesh to feel for these bones, and then uses needle-nose pliers or tweezers to pull the bones from the flesh.

From this point on, you can do anything! Don't know where to start? Check out the rest of Ben Robinson's Raw Fish Made Easy course to learn how to turn the fruits of your labor into ceviche, fish crudo and sushi.

Related Links:

Next Up

Ben Vaughn

Ben Vaughn is the host of Food Network's Health Inspectors.

Heads or Tails? Whole-Fish Sushi Offers Both

A popular sushi chain in Japan has introduced a sushi roll that is definitely not for the fishphobic: It’s made with a whole sardine – head, tail, eyes and all.

Holiday Cocktail Party: Deck the Trees

Deck your halls with creative and festive trees that will take your holiday cocktail party to the next level!

Deck the Halls with Food Lights

Trade your traditional holiday lights for a string of fun food-themed ones from Food Network Magazine.

One-on-One with Master Pastry Chef Ron Ben-Israel

Master Pastry Chef Ron Ben-Israel previews the brand-new series Cake Wars, plus dishes on his personal cake tastes.

How to Cook Fish (Really!): A Chat with Oceana's Ben Pollinger

Chef Ben Pollinger's new book School of Fish will teach you everything you ever wanted to know about fish but were afraid to ask.

One Fish, Two Fish — Try a New Fish

We’re used to hearing dire news about our ocean life, but here’s an inspiring story of recovery and renewal for fish lovers, cooks and people who care about seafood sustainability.

Healthy Whole Grains

Take advantage of the nutrients in these wholesome grains.

Related Pages