Learn something new - removing skin from a purchased fish fillet

This post is for anyone else who is as intimidated by trying to prepare raw fish (before cooking it) as I was.

I don’t fish and never learned the technique for removing the skin from the flesh of a raw purchased fillet. But when my husband saw me attempting it (swearing under my breath) with a walleye fillet yesterday he coached me with the skill he learned from fishing with his Dad.

For me, the key points I’d gotten wrong from just reading about it -

Put the fish SKIN SIDE DOWN on a
FLAT surface, cutting board - not a plate
Start at the TAIL end, hold FIRMLY to the skin - pin it down on the flat surface (his Dad used a pliers to grasp the skin) - while wiggling knife / fish to slip the knife along between the skin and the flesh.

A picture really is worth a thousand words. Here’s a link to a youtube video that shows just the skin removal technique in an excerpt from a series about catfish, which also have a tough to remove skin.

And another video (at minute 5:11) showed how to remove the pinbones that get left in the walleye fillet when it’s sent to my market – I’m guessing that those, along with the skin left on for authentication - help keep the fillet good-looking as it’s packaged for sale. But neither are easy for cook or eater to deal with. The practical answer is to just cut out and discard that narrow strip containing the pinbones.

I cook salmon all the time, leaving the skin on through cooking and removing it before eating. But that doesn’t work with walleye.


Further key point is to make sure your knife is sharp. Hold the skin firmly and the knife will pretty much glide through effortlessly. Of course, you only need to remove the skin if you don’t intend to eat it


We found walleye skin inedible. Despite what some websites say, when cooked it’s actually REALLY tough, shoe-leather texture, and not at all “delicate”/crunchy.

Wait till you skin a catfish!

Catfish is not sold at my grocery so I likely won’t have the opportunity any time soon. Hmmm- next vacation destination chosen based on fish availability,? Food for thought.

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I know I’ve seen these tasks being performed, like magic, by Jacques Pepin, but can’t recall if it was on some of his TV series or his own FB videos…or possibly both.


It really helps to use a Kitchen Towel to grip the Skin and to keep it taut.