Fresh, Fair, Fish with Off the Hook

You’ve heard us talk a lot about CSAs… but have you ever thought about signing up for a CSF?

‘Off the Hook’ Community Supported Fishery works to connect a co-operative of small-scale, groundfish bottom hook and line fishermen from the Bay of Fundy to subscribing customers in and around Halifax.  Through Off the Hook, consumers get direct access to sustainably harvested fish, and fishing families get a fair price for their catch. It’s not too late to sign up for Off the Hook. Summer deliveries of fresh, fair, fish began on Saturday, July 7, but pro-rated subscriptions are available on-line all summer long. Deliveries happen on Saturdays in the following communities: Halifax (Historic Farmers’ Market in old the Keith’s Brewery), North End Halifax (at the EAC), Wolfville, Tatamagouche, Truro, Tantallon, Bedford, Dartmouth, Lower Prospect, and on Sundays at the Musquodoboit Harbour Farmers’ Market. To order, go to

Dave Adler from Off the Hook hosted a great lunch and learn at the EAC office yesterday, and taught us how to fillet whole cod and haddock.  While Off the Hook sells filleted fish as well, the whole fish provide the best value – as long as you know how to cut it up!  For those of us just starting to learn, it was a really valuable workshop.

The main trick, is starting with a very sharp knife!  It also helps if you spend a minute or two before cutting to figure out where the bones lie, which makes it a little easier to decide where to cut.  Most of the bony parts are in the head and the backbone, which run straight down the middle of the fish.

Dave suggested we start by cutting right behind the small fin close to the head.  We cut diagonally to avoid some small bones at the bottom of the fish.  This triangular piece of meat is called the nape, which tasted really great when we fried it up later!

The next part was a bit trickier.  You should cut along the top of the fish – just off to the side actually – and follow the bones attached to the spine.  Let your knife cut against the bone, and your fillet should fall away from the rest of the body.  Keep on doing this all along the spine, and continue down until the fillet is removed.

Once your fillet is free, you can cut the skin off.  Lay your fillet on the cutting board with the skin side down.  Start on the tail side of the fillet and cut into the thin meat.  Use your non-cutting hand to grab onto the skin and pull it gently while your knife is cutting the fillet away from the skin.  If you keep your blade pushed into the cutting board as you’re pulling the skin, it should fall away quite easily.

Of course, we got to eat some of our freshly filleted fish – we wrapped up the fillets in several tinfoil packets with butter and various herb blends, and stuck them on the grill.  About 20 minutes later, they were done and we were eating delicious haddock and cod.  Mmmmm.

For a video tutorial on how to fillet whole groundfish, check out this video on the Off the Hook website:

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