How to skin a monkfish

Updated April 17, 2017

Monkfish is a homely fish found in the Mediterranean and off the coasts of Japan and North America. Its weight ranges from 0.454 to 22.7 kg (1 to 50 lb). It typically grows to between 30 cm and 1.2 m (1 and 4 feet). The monkfish's head takes up most of its body and is inedible. Virtually boneless, the monkfish does have a large spine. While cooking, the fish will excrete a milky liquid that can be sticky. By marinating the monkfish in brine for an hour, you can drain the flesh of fluid. The brine will also help the fish to brown during cooking.

Place the fish on its belly. If the head is still on the fish, cut from fin to fin. Remove the head.

Flip the fish over so that it is resting on its back. Use a paring knife to cut the skin down to the end of the tail.

Loosen the skin with your fingers. Use the knife to slice any connective tissue as you gently pull the skin off the carcase.

Use the knife to loosen and peel off the silvery thin membrane that remains around the tail.

Slide a knife along the spine of the fish. From one side of the backbone, cut a fillet off. Remove the bone, or cartilage, that runs down the centre of the carcase. A gristly fibre may remain where the bone was removed. That fibre and any dark blemishes on the flesh should also be removed.

Trim off any of the membrane that remains on the skin side of the fish.

Trim and wash the fillets.


Remove all of the silvery membrane or the fish will taste like rubber after cooking.

Things You'll Need

  • Paring knife
  • Cutting board
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About the Author

Kay Tang is a journalist who has been writing since 1990. She previously covered developments in theater for the "Dramatists Guild Quarterly." Tang graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in economics and political science from Yale University and completed a Master of Professional Studies in interactive telecommunications at New York University.