Due to the coronavirus outbreak Leiths has made the difficult decision to cancel all planned courses (except our online courses) until the end of June. In these exceptional circumstances all students who have booked places on our courses will be offered the opportunity to cancel or reschedule their course. If you are currently in the process of taking a multi-part course, you will be offered new dates to complete the course later in the year. Of course we will be dealing with a high volume of calls and emails and we thank you for your understanding and patience during this unsettling time. We look forward to cooking with you at Leiths in the near future.


If necessary, first wipe over the fillets with kitchen paper to ensure they are dry.

...Skin a flat fish

Step by step

1 Finding the natural line between the fillet and the frill.

2 Holding the narrow end of the fillet firmly and inserting the knife at an angle between the skin and the fillet.

3 Working the fillet away from the skin, using a sawing action, while keeping the knife pressed firmly against the skin.

4 Holding the skin closer to the unreleased flesh as you work towards the other end.

5 Trimming the skinned fillets to neaten.

6 The skinned fillets are now ready to cook.


  1. Place a fillet skin side down on the board with the narrow end towards you. There is a natural break between the fillet and the frill. Use the tip of a finger to identify and open this. Cut down this line to remove the frill on all 4 fillets. As you become more confident with your fish filleting and skinning skills, it may not be necessary to remove the frill first; it will naturally come away as the fillet is skinned.
  2. Take a little salt in the fingers of your non-knife hand and hold onto the end of the fillet tightly. Insert the knife between the skin and flesh, just in front of your fingers, at a 30–40° angle.
  3. Now, holding firmly onto the skin, move the knife decisively to the left and right using an exaggerated sawing action, while maintaining a firm pressure with the knife on the fish skin, to start to release the flesh from the skin.
  4. As you release more flesh adjust the position of the fingers holding the skin closer to the unreleased flesh. It is important to firmly press the knife blade against the skin, which is against the board. Work your way up the fillet like this, releasing the flesh as a whole fillet. Take care not to hold the knife blade too vertically or you will cut through the skin, but too flat against the skin and you will leave flesh on the skin; it takes some practice.
  5. Repeat with the remaining 3 fillets. Wipe down the board with kitchen paper and lay the fillets on the board. Once skinned, trim the fillets as necessary, without wasting fish.
  6. Feel the fillets all over for bones. Usually this method of filleting leaves the fillets bone free, but it is always good to check. Remove any small bones that you find with kitchen tweezers. The fillets are now ready to use.

Note When skinning, we find it easier to move the knife hand back and forwards, but, as with filleting, if you find it more comfortable to hold your knife hand steady and move the hand holding the skin from side to side, use this technique. You should adopt the method that feels the most comfortable and safest for you, and one that prevents wastage. It is easier to remove the darker skin from the fillets than the paler skin.

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