In a previous blog post, I quickly introduced the Pacific Saury, or “Sanma” (“Autumn Sword Fish”). This time, I’ll give a few amateur tips on how to gut one of these tasty yet delicate fish. The advice below may help you with some finer points, but the accompanying video is also a good visual tool for your reference.
Warning: If you’re easily offended by the butchering of fish, please stop reading and do not play the video — I’m not trying to be cruel to fish, but just telling it how it is.
*I’m gutting this saury with the intention of making sashimi or sushi, so I have no need for the head. If you are frying your saury, you might want to leave the head attached since there is still flesh that’s worth picking at.
Step 1: Prepare your tools
Basically all you’ll need is a knife — if your saury was bought at a fish market, they should have already taken off the scales, but they are still there, use a scale remover.
Make sure your knife is razor sharp and NOT serrated — serrated blades do a good job of ripping fish flesh, but what a waste of a fish… preserve the nutritional and aesthetic qualities of your fish by always using a straight edged knife.
Step 2: Cut Off the Head — In the video below, I point to the area just behind the the pectoral fin. I messed up here, because I could avoided wasted by cutting directly behind the gills, which are a bit forward of the pectoral fins. As the saying goes, Sry, Im still noob. Anyway, the head comes off.
Step 3: Remove the guts — Also in the video, I point at where the saury’s internal organs are. Basically, the saury is just a little eating machine with a fast digestive sytem, so that means little mess with a large stomach. It’s also easy to identify where the guts begin and end, hence my indication with my along along the saury’s belly. What I do is I make an entry cut into the saury’s – I know it’s gross – anus, and while gently and patiently negotiating my blade towards the head of the fish. Of course, I take advantage of the sharpness of my blade rather than forcefully push and cut.
Now that the guts have been revealed, I take them out with my fingers or the tip of my knife, being careful not to make a mess of things. Afterwards, I take my saury over to the sink for a light rinsing.
Not so tough, is it? Enjoy the video!
Author’s note: Use of language with reference to butchering of the fish above is in no way meant to disrespect metropolitan sushi readers sensitive to such content. If you have taken offense, please refer to the warning at the beginning of this blog post.