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The quality of the preserved fish begins with the handling of the fish when caught. Handle fish carefully; they bruise easily. Keep fish out of the sun. Clean, dress and wash fish immediately; then pack them in ice, or refrigerate them as soon as possible to prevent deterioration. Use within 1 to 2 days.
Follow these basic steps for cleaning, dressing and steaking fish.
1. Wash fish. Use clean, drinking-quality water.
2. Scale or skin as required. Remove scales by scraping with dull edge of a knife from the tail to the head. If you skin the fish, it is not necessary to scale it. To skin, split the skin down the back, and loosen around the fins. Use pliers to remove the skin, pulling from head to tail.
3. Cut entire length of belly from vent to head. Remove viscera and gills if the head is not to be removed.
4. To remove the head (if desired) cut to the backbone above the collarbone. Break the backbone over edge of a table or cutting board, then cut any tissue holding the head to the body.