Catfish, also known as Barbel in many countries, is one of the most common fish species in the world, and can be found in just about all forms of freshwater, from dams, lakes, to streams and rivers. Its abundance has made catfish a staple for many cultures, and those that know how to prepare it properly are able to make delicious dishes using this easy to catch fish. For anyone that’s interested in learning how to prepare a newly caught catfish for cooking, these are the steps to follow.

1. Allow The Blood To Drain

After the catfish has been caught, one of the first steps to take is to hang the catfish by its head using either a rope or a hook, and once it’s hanging, remove the tail with a sharp knife. This will cause all of the blood in the fish to drain out, and it’s advised to leave them hanging like this for at least half an hour, but an hour is recommended, which is a great time to relax with a book or game, and luckily the choices for great games are endless.

It’s important to ensure that the catfish is dead before cutting off the tail, as it can cause some blood to remain in the body and is unnecessarily cruel to the fish. It also provides a method of cleaning out the fish, as catfish are bottomfeeders and scavengers, and it’s not unusual for them to have ingested toxins from where they were living.

2. Skinning the Fish

A catfish has two prominent fins on its body, and it’s important to avoid starting at the fin that is by the head, which is known as the adipose fin. Once located, a fillet knife should be place directly behind it, and then cut all the way up until the other main fin is reached, which is called the dorsal fin. The knife can then be cut down into the body, ensuring that it’s deep into the fish, but not quite enough to remove the head.

Keeping the head attached to the thick skin is vital to helping break the backbone, and can be done by holding the fish’s body with one hand, the head with the other, and then bending until there’s an audible break. From here, the backbone needs to be pulled out of the fish by grabbing the head and pulling toward the tail. If the skin is still firmly attached to the head, this should de-glove the fish and leave just the meat behind.

3. Filleting the Fish

Next, the knife needs to be inserted until it hits bone, and then sliced up along the side of the catfish, which should provide a single, large piece of fish. This can be repeated easily on the other side, and will provide two solid slabs of catfish.

This is the point where it’s a good idea to take the time and search through the meat for any bones. Catfish are known for having many small, sharp bones that can easily get stuck in the meat, and can become a choking hazard once the meat has been cooked. The rest of the fish cannot be used, and should be discarded.