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Burchoid

Walleye fillets and bones

22 posts in this topic

So -- I have a question for y'all.

I have cleaned and ate 100's of fish over the years and something just occurred to me the other day. Whenever I order a walleye fillet at a restaurant, those little bones that run the length of the fillet down the middle are very soft and pliable, so much so that you don't even notice they are there. Nice!

Now. When I catch and fillet a walleye, that same little line of bones still runs down the middle of the fillet. The part I can't seem to replicate is making the bones soft and pliable so that you don't notice them while eating. We are talking the SAME size fillet, fillet the SAME exact way that the restaurants have, yet somehow the restaurant fillets' bones are 100% unnoticeable.

That got me to thinking -- what is different about my fillets? Why do my bones stay hard and noticeable? How do I make them soft and not noticeable? Should I cook the meat longer? Soak it in a acidic brine first?

When I want 100% no-bone fish I wind up splitting the fillet and zippering out the center line, but it doesn't look as nice a whole fillet of fish.

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I remove those bones.. I would be willing to bet it has something to do with how the fish are frozen?

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I always "zip out" that center line. No one seems to care much what they look like.

I even prefer to cut my fillets into at least three pieces. They get done quicker and more even and end up crispier when fried.

mmmmmmm....maybe I'll get those last couple out of the freezer tonight.

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We all know how to remove that center line, but then you wind up with two long strips of meat. I usually don't mind because I cube up my fish and beer batter it for nice little bite-size morsels. However, on occasion I would like to serve a whole fillet just because it looks nicer as a 'steak' on a plate. I don't do it because everything I've tried so far results in noticeable bones running the center line. I spoke with a restaurant on Saturday about this and they said they don't do anything different, and that the meat comes to them like that. I think the source has trick up their sleeve to make soft bones and I want to know what it is!

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No one?

What about this idea:

Before you cook your fish, thoroughly rinse the fillets, lay them out on a plate, and squirt a line of lemon juice right down the middle on the center line bones. Cover with plastic wrap and throw in the fridge for a few hours.

Take it out a few hours later, rinse again, and cook. I wonder if this would soften up those bones??

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Found this on the net. People actually fillet up and over those 'pin bones' in the center line. Another method is to use a pliers and pull them out one by one.

"OOD's Managing Editor John Kerr follows the same basic procedure as Powis, but he doesn't cut through the secondary ribs at step 4. Instead, he turns the knife parallel to them and works it over and down to the main ribs, from which the fillet is then removed in one piece. The secondary ribs stay on the skeleton with the main ribs. "It's slower than Paul's method, but accomplishes the same thing - a boneless fillet. I do perch, crappie, and bass this way too," he said. "It takes a slow, careful hand, though, to prevent leaving pin bones in a fillet. That's why many pros like Paul prefer to remove them more quickly from walleye at a later stage of the process. Smaller fish like perch, though, are easy to fillet over their short secondary ribs."

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I think Burchoid has it described.

What I do is fillet the fish from the top, rather than the side. This way I don't cut into any bones or guts or blood. It's a little trickier and you need a really sharp fillet knife.

I slit the skin along the top as close to the dorsal fin as possible and simply use short strokes to work the meat away from the rib cage and backbone. You get a totally clean and bone-free fillet.

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Chef- but there are still the pin bones people are talking about.. plain and simple!

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Stupid pin bones! I think it would worth the effort to get out the pliers and pull each pinbone by hand to make that "special dinner" for the wifey.

Imagine a nice, thick, pan seared, parmesian crusted fillet of walleye!! MMMMMMMM A few slices of lemon and a fresh sprig of parsely to finish it off.

Does anyone here know someone in the restaurant business who they could ask about the pin bones in walleye fillets? Just to clarify, the secondary ribs they are refering to in that article above ARE the pinbones. The one guy says he simply follows the pinbones, goes up and over them, then back down to the main ribcage. This method will leave a slit down the middle of the entire fillet, but it would still be in 1 peice!

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Those pin bones don't run the whole length of the fillet, so when I take them out, it leaves the fillet with a slight "devils tail" slit about 1/2 way down. Once I dredge them in flour and egg, I sqeeze them together prior to the Panko crumbs. The fillets come out of the frying pan looking pretty much as if I didn't remove the pin bones at all.

Or if you are going to garnish a parm crusted fillet with a lemon and parsley presentation, just push the two pieces together and lay one of your two small lemon slices and a sprig of parsley over that end of the fillet. Be sure to take a nice picture prior to munching down.

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Pin bones in a walleye are easily filleted up and over, leaving an intact fillet, same as a sunfish, perch.. Takes a bit of practice, but it really isn't that tough. yeah, they get close to the skin, and can be tricky, but it is possible. In fact if you can run a computer, I'm sure you can do it!

Makes a nice plate with an in tact walleye fillet, and the fixins!

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as much as I enjoy a nice slab of fillet, once and awhile I'll just bread em whole and pick thru the bones. Love those crispy tails.

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Just scale them and be happy with a nice fish that you have a few bones with it's part of the dinner, just remember if their coughing their not choking just watch them till they turn blue then you can help.

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All great ideas, but it still doesn't answer how restuarant served walleye fillets leave the pinbones in but manage to have them be so soft you can't notice them in your mouth.

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Maybe I don't notice them Dietz. I don't eat Walleyes bigger than 19" and it's rare that I eat one over 18". My preferred eater is 16"-17".

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This thread has me really confused confused Pin bones in walleyes and panfish? If I knew the number of walleyes and panfish I have fileted and eaten i'd probably be called a liar or outlaw - of which im niether grin Never any bones...

I just start the knife behind the gill and go down to the backbone, then down along the spine to the tail, then flop the filet over with skin attached and slide the knife between the meat and the skin. Now ya have a filet with just the rib bones to cut out. If I do trout or pike this way then there are "pin" bones along that line at the top of the filet. I eat and serve alot of trout this way and just make people aware that there are still bones in there that need to be picked through...

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Archerysniper, my Pa never filleted em, we just scaled and gutted em so I never really learned how to do it. Always had a slice of bread to push down the bones if one got stuck. I'm a meat cutter to boot. All my fishin buddies do it while I take care of other stuff after fishin is done. I'm wondering if those restraunts fillets are "cut shallow", ergo, lotta waste.

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Hopefully this works. To clarify for those not sure what the pinpones are, below is a diagram of the pinbones aka secondary ribs that most people leave in. Most people cut through them and don't even notice they are there, but if you run your finger along the middle of the fillet you will feel them. I, like many others, "zipper" out this line of bones after filleting. This whole thread was started because I want to know how restaurants manage to leave those bones in but have them be so soft they aren't noticeable, even on large fillets.

walleye-title.jpg

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And here's a pike so that you can compare and contrast the two.

pike-title.jpg

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Keeping the smaller fish for the table helps this problem greatly. Up to 17" and fry the heck out them, and you will never know they were there. They are only about 1/4" long with that size fish and will fry up. Walleyes getting closer to the 18-20" size have harder and longer pin bones.

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Tell you what, there's no trick in the restaurant to making those bones less noticeable. Your likely just eating a younger fish with less developed pin bones.

Ever since I got into this gig I've been cutting the pin bones out of my walleye's whether it be a 3oz filet or a 14oz filet. Sure it comes to the table with a strip removed, but I'd rather my guest didn't have to bother with it in their teeth. Bottomline it's about the experience.

However, you figure out a way make sure you shoot me an email. smile

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First time I filleted fish and removed the pins bones in front of my daughter in law she held it up and said the fillet looked like fishy pants grin I still laugh whenever I think of that laugh

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