Food, Home & Lifestyle

Rockfish: Whole Fish Preparation

Niki Nakayama

Lesson time 14:59 min

Learn to handle a whole fish with confidence as Niki shares a few professional tricks and demonstrates key knife skills.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Cleaning and Deboning


[MUSIC PLAYING] - We have a local rockfish that is really, really delicate in flavor. And what we like about it is that not only is it delicate in flavor, it has white flesh meat, which in Japanese we call shiromi meat. And shiromi meat just basically refers to the types of fish that produce a white-fleshed meat. Generally, with shiromi meat, they tend to be a lot lighter, so there's a little bit of different things that we would do, as compared to tuna. So we're going to, of course, demonstrate the no waste cooking, otherwise known as mottainai in Japanese, for cuisine. We're going to demonstrate using it from the head to the tail, and the bone inside as well. So when I cut fish, I generally really, really like to do it from whole. I like to leave the collar on because it allows me to grab certain sections of the fish while I'm turning it or flipping it around. And first we're going to take the head off. So one of the things that I like to do is, of course, just cut through this area, where the collar and the head meat. When we gut the fish, we have to be very careful because there are pockets of the fish that, if you break into it, it could bleed onto the meat itself, and that is something we want to avoid. Okay, so first I'm going to open up the collar area, give me some space to work with, in terms of the fish. And then at this point, what's really great is sometimes the fish can be really big and hard to work with and it can be difficult. So one of the things that I like to teach our staff is to look for the softer areas, the joints of the fish, that actually make it an easier situation to cut through. So in terms of this, what we would look for is one of these areas between the collar and the neck. So we would open that up a little bit and find that area where the knife just goes straight in. That was one of the areas. There we are able to take off the head really nicely without having to chop too hard or whack our way in. It's just a very easy, straightforward cut. And at this point, we take a look at the inside of the fish. And there's this area right here, what we call the chiai, which is the blood line. And when we're cleaning fish, one of the things we do is after we remove the innards, we take a small brush and brush that line out, because the more impurities and blood that we can remove from the fish, the better we are able to maintain the quality of the fish. So make sure, when you're cleaning the fish, that you take time to clean out that blood line. And from here, we're going to go ahead and filet this fish to what we call, in this particular style, sanmai oroshi. And sanmai oroshi just means when you're finished cutting, you'll be left with three pieces. In our case, we'll have two filets and the center bone. So at this point, I'm going to take off the collar area, which you'll see we can use again in our owan dish. Now, in Japanese fish cutting, there's an idea that we generally l...

About the Instructor

The chef and owner of two-Michelin-starred restaurant n/naka in Los Angeles, Niki Nakayama is celebrated for her modern interpretation of kaiseki, a traditional Japanese cuisine. With her partner and sous chef, Carole, Niki will teach you techniques for preparing sashimi, tempura, perfect rice, and more. Learn how to make dishes that honor fresh ingredients as Niki shows you how to cook with care and gratitude.

Featured MasterClass Instructor

Niki Nakayama

Niki Nakayama of two-Michelin-starred n/naka teaches you how to honor fresh ingredients with her innovative take on Japanese home cooking techniques.

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