There was a vendor in the Bacolod market with large groupers for sale. Almost all the fish were of a uniform size, so I suspect these were caught in large nets and were part of a school of groupers, if they travel in schools… At PHP200 a kilo, these were a bargain compared to the PHP400+ a kilo they command in Manila. I watched with rapt attention as the vendor or his assistants, rapidly filleted the groupers, taking less than a minute to remove two large fillets from each fish. A very sharp knife, fantastic knife skills, and a wealth of experience is always a great thing to behold. I watched, then photographed as the vendor filleted fish after fish after fish…
First, place the fish on a nice big chopping board. Thank it for giving up its leisurely life on the reef(s) to feed several humans (and in turn tormenting lots of smaller edible creatures which it gladly swallowed up in search of protein), and take out a sharp knife. Remove the scales of the fish on both sides. Then make a clean cut behind the gills/head…
…and decapitate it. Save the head for a wonderful soup or fish curry.
Turn the fish around so that you can easily cut away the fillets starting at the top of the main bone behind the head of the fish.
Carefully cut out the flesh with a sharp knife, it will almost naturally peel away from the bones if done properly.
Cut away the whole side of the fish and you have a fillet! Trim this a bit more to make it less barbaric looking. Slice it into smaller pieces if you desire. Leaving the skin on makes it easier to cook and more fishlike in appearance, if you know what I mean. :)
All the trimmings, bones, heads, etc. can be used for soup. Filleted, the cost would be roughly PHP350 per kilo. What a pleasure to watch such a skilled fishmonger at work. :)