How to Clean and Fillet Sardines
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.