How to clean and fillet sardines

Follow these 5 easy steps to prepare your sardines

Pacific sardines
Photo: Dwight Eschliman

1. Remove guts: Wearing gloves if you like, lay each fish on its side on a work surface. Cut through fish 1/4 in. from edge of belly along its length. Pull out guts and rinse fish.

2. Scale: Gently scrape fish from tail to head with your fingertips to loosen scales.

3. Trim: With kitchen scissors, cut off dorsal (top) fin and tail. Rinse fish and work surface.

4. Fillet: At collar below head, score slits in fish on each side just to the bone. Hold fish head with 1 hand. With index and middle fingers of your other hand, make a scissor shape; slide "blades" into slits on either side of fish and, sliding along backbone to the tail, pull fillets free from bone.

5. Cut fillets: Cut in half lengthwise and pull off any pin bones.

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