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How to Split or Butterfly a Fish

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Gather Your Tools
Gather your tools

Gather your tools

Holly A. Heyser

Whether you call it splitting, butterflying or kiting, removing the backbone and ribs of a whole fish is an important skill for a seafood cook to learn.

Butterflying removes most -- but not all -- of the bones in a fish, and it creates a larger cavity for stuffing, and stuffing is the primary reason to butterfly a fish.

Kiting, so called because it makes the finished fish look like a kite, is butterflying when you remove the head of the fish as well. Kiting is mainly used when smoking fish, especially haddock to make the smoked Scottish delicacy finan haddie.

What you'll need: Kitchen shears, a very sharp fillet knife, a cutting board and, of course, a fish that has been scaled and gutted. Make sure the gills are also removed.

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