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How to Debone a Tilapia

Tiliapia, a flaky white fish originating from fresh streams, lakes and rivers from around the world work well in a variety of recipes due to its mellow flavour. Before adding cooked or raw Tiliapia to your next recipe, debone the fish to make cooking and eating easier. Remove the head, innards, skin and bones of a Tilapia and reserve just the meat for cooking. Practice deboning fish regularly to make filleting a quick and easy process.

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  1. Lay a whole Tilapia on a cutting board.

  2. With a sharp butcher knife, cut the head off directly behind the gills. Discard the head or use it to flavour fish stock.

  3. Grasp the fish by the tail and make a cut directly above the tail through the skin and flesh until you reach the backbone. Use a long skinning knife or other long, flat blade knife to cut the meat off the bones.

  4. Angle the knife so it is parallel with the fish. Still holding the fish by the tail, cut towards the front of the fish using short, sawing motions. Cut close to, but above the backbone of the fish.

  5. Flip the fish over and repeat on the other side to remove the fillet.

  6. Slide the skinning knife between the skin and the meat of each fillet to remove the skin and scales. Start cutting where the tail used to be and separate the skin from the meat with slow saw-like motions. Discard the skin.

  7. Tip

    Remove any remaining small bones with a pair of tweezers.


    Always angle the knife away from your body to avoid injury.

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Things You'll Need

  • Cutting board
  • Butcher knife
  • Skinning knife

About the Author

Alyssa Ideboen has been writing professionally since 2005. She has contributed to several print and online publications, including "Lexington Woman" and "Global Business" magazines. Ideboen holds a Bachelor of Arts in business management and communication from Judson University.

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