Sardines do require minor preparation once thawed from the frozen state; their backbones must be removed carefully in order to protect the delicate meat. Once the entrails and head are extracted from the sardines, removing the backbone will pull out the rib bones and tail. Once you gut the sardine, you will be able to remove the skin easily to create the fillets.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Cold water
- Cutting board
- Sharp knife
- Fish basket
- Olive oil
Thaw the frozen sardines in the refrigerator overnight. Once the sardines thaw, remove them from the fridge and place them on a cutting board.
Rinse the sardines under cold water. Remove any scales with your thumbs by rubbing your thumbs over them gently.
Use a sharp knife to cut off the head. Cut the head just below the gills, and pull away with the knife to slide the head off to the side.
Slice the sardine’s stomach. Make the slit the length of the stomach to remove the entrails. You will need to pull them out with your hand until you remove everything and the backbone and ribs become exposed.
Rub your thumb over the backbone to separate it from the meat. Keep rubbing and separating the backbone all the way down to the sardine’s tail.
Cut the skin around the backbone before the tail. Turn the sardine over onto the cutting board. Press down onto the backbone, and then flip the sardine back over. Pull on the tail to remove the tail, backbone and ribs from the fish. Hold the sardine down with your other hand to avoid dropping it on the counter.
Hold the sardine with two hands. Peel the skin from the sardine starting at the head. You will end up with two separate fillets. Make sure the peel the skin from the second fillet as well.
Place the sardine fillets in a grilling fish basket. Rub the fish basket with olive oil to prevent the fillets from sticking.
Tips and warnings
- Wash your hands before and after handling the raw fish to prevent contamination and illness.
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