Flatheads are a fairly large family of fish but only this one is
commercially significant. The Bartail Flathead can grow to 39 inches and 7.7
pounds but the photo specimen was 14-1/2 inches and weighed 11 ounces, the
in a package of three frozen in China. This fish is found from the Atlantic
coast of southern Africa around through the Indian Ocean all the way to the
mid Pacific islands and has been introduced into the eastern Mediterranean.
It ranges from from southern Australia north to Korea and Japan and is now
also being farmed, particularly in Japan.
This is an excellent eating fish with a flavor and texture similar to cod. Unfortunately it isn't much exported to the U.S. yet so tends to be a bit expensive.
Flathead is completely covered with tiny scales that scrape off fairly easily without a lot of flying about. Personally, Gills are hard to remove but personally, since my filleting method doesn't need the head I just cut it off - then the gills are easy to deal with.
Filleting isn't difficult but when you get to the rib cage the ribs are hard to follow with a knife so just cut them from the spine and pull them off the fillet. Hold the flesh tight so pulling the bones doesn't tear it. Yield is moderate with an 11 ounce fish yielding 4.3 ounces of skinless fillet (39%).
The skin is very thin but comes off easily using the standard long knife and cutting board method. The skin shrinks fairly severely when fried. The head, bones, fins and skin make a light flavored fish stock usable for fish soups and stews.
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