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PFIC Message Boards >> Fishing Tutorials This topic is locked: you cannot edit posts or make replies.
>> Cleaning a Monkey Faced Eel [topic: previous/next]
PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 2:13 pm
frozendog


Posts: 1612
Location: SLO County

I've been cleaning Monkey Faced Eels for years and this is the easiest way I have found. No reason to be intimidated by them. It's just another fish waiting to be filleted.
But first, when you catch one, be sure to bleed it. I bleed all of the fish I am planning to eat.
Your two best tools are a cold eel-I leave mine in the ice chest over night, and a sharp knife (not razor sharp, but sharp).
Here we go.... Get yourself an eel...

This guy was a little over 24" so you have to clean it a little different than the smaller ones.
First thing I do is slit the belly and remove the intestines. I put them in a zip lock bag and toss.

Then, use an old towel or paper towel and wipe the slime off the eel. They slime up when left on ice. Then I take the top fillet off, just like I would do with any rockfish.
Take the fillet and put it on a separate piece of newspaper.



Then, with the second fillet, I take my knife and sort of outline the fish. I'll cut along the fins, through the skin down to the backbone. The idea is to get rid of the bones that are attached to the spine.



I should have mentioned earlier that I always clean my fish on a newspaper so I don't have to scrub the cleaning board.
You can see in the picture how I have outlined the whole top of the eel and bottom where there are any fins.
Then I take that fillet off and put it with the other one.


At this point, this is what you have - an eel frame.


You don't waste much meat and you deal with each fillet separately.
Now you take one of the fillets on a new piece of newspaper and skin it. Run the knife, beginning at the tail end, between the skin and the flesh. Rocking the knife back and forth slowly. This is where you really need the cold fish so that flesh doesn't rip. I always cut out the rib section to avoid bones. Then do the other fillet and you have two beautiful skinless and boneless fillets.


You're left with a piece of skin that is incredibly tough.


The hardest part is cutting through the rib bones. I have heard that a serrated knife works well, but I haven't tried it.
After you skin the fish, you run your hand along the side where you removed the skin and feel for any bonelike pieces. Nip them out. I found one on each fillet. If you bite into it you will think it is a bone.

This is what became of the eel. Dipped finger sized pieces of the fillet into an egg wash and then into a mixture of Italian bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and panko in a zip lock back. Woked in a little oil until brown.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 2:27 pm
fishlady


Posts: 615
Location: Aransas Pass, TX

Mmmmmmmm, never caught one or ate one. Looks yummy!
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 3:05 pm
MsCMSchultz


Posts: 1287
Location: BUIDB: "Thats a great shot of a pier from the beach."

Thank you, Frozen Dog; I will show this to my hubby (i catch, he cleans).

BTW, do you really dispose of the MFE guts? cuz we save ALL the trimmings (head too), freeze them and then use for crab bait--and no matter which device we use, the MFE trimmings just draws the crabs.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 3:58 pm
Salty_Dog


Posts: 568

I didn't realize that MFE's had that much meat on them.

Good job on the cleaning instructions.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 4:40 pm
clayman


Posts: 2298
Location: Lake Almanor, CA

Awesome step-by-step instructions on cleaning those slimy, Rasputin-incarnate pricklebacks. They're certainly intimidating if you're not used to cleaning them. The first MFE I kept made me curse its refusal to die, then I cursed even more when the fish's slime prevented me from getting a firm grip. But after I cleaned a few more, it got easier, to the point where I enjoyed keeping a monkeyface as a unique addition to a bag of rockfish.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 4:51 pm
RazorClam


Posts: 338

Beautiful fillets!!!! I think I need to re-evaluate my own methods now.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 7:26 pm
rockcrab62


Posts: 525

Nice tutorial! Thats pretty much how I clean my eels.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 7:20 am
richd1963


Posts: 373
Location: Pasadena, CA

Holly smokes, that is some good looking meat on those fillets. Do they taste as good as they look? Um,,,Um... Good Job with the pics. Thanks.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 7:46 am
dsch2251


Posts: 532

Really cool demonstration and pictures!
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 7:53 am
Ken Jones


Posts: 9461
Location: California

Excellent post! This type of post, one that provides useful information for all members, is the type that I was hoping would become the staple of PFIC. Thanks.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 8:14 am
MsCMSchultz


Posts: 1287
Location: BUIDB: "Thats a great shot of a pier from the beach."

richd1963 wrote:
Holly smokes, that is some good looking meat on those fillets. Do they taste as good as they look? Um,,,Um... Good Job with the pics. Thanks.


Our first monkeyface, the cleaning was a major hassle. But as soon as rick saw how beautifully "clean" and translucent the raw fillet looked, we were intrigued. And after we cooked and ate it, we were hooked. Brilliant white meat, excellent texture and fine flavor.

The younger pricklebacks are more tender and mild in flavor, with a texture pretty akin to halibut. The older ones are firmer and the flavor more pronounced, with a texture more similar to overcooked rockfish.

There are those who only keep and consume fish less than 22"; me, I keep the fillets from older fish for fish stews/soups.

Admittedly, there is plenty to be put off about: the sliminess, the grassy/veggie smell, but once you get past that, a versatile table fish.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 8:15 am
Iascaire


Posts: 244
Location: San Luis Obispo

Nice going! You beat me to it! I was planning to do this same report this week! Turns out we do them pretty much the same, the only real difference is I don't cut the filet off of the eel entirely and I cut the skin off with it still attached at the tail area, I think it gives me a bit better grip on the fish but I will try this method soon! You are definitely right about putting the eel in the cooler overnight, that makes it so much easier. Do you ever get a really sweet disgusting smell when you're cleaning them? Not sure if it's because I leave the guts attached through the whole process or if it's just the smell of cleaning a MFE. Anyway excellent post!
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 9:07 am
iamfisherman


Posts: 2203
Location: NorCal...

Wow...that is one of the cleanest fillet job i've ever seen...

I might have to try MFE again soon. Thanks for the tutorial...
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 10:33 am
atanger


Posts: 33
Location: san francisco

I went out on for the 1st time for MFE this past Saturday to Baker Beach when the tide was pretty low in the pm. I headed West towards China and was poking and prodding my bait into as many crevices as I could. No luck but I wanted to ask the more experienced MFE fisherman what type of habitat do they prefer? Not many tide pools and most of the larger boulders/rocks were facing towards the waves. I am not sure if MFE,during low tide, prefer a minimal wave action, heavy, or no water contact? Tried climbing on top of the rocks and no luck their either.
Might be just the location.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 11:04 am
thefrood


Posts: 1293
Location: Southern California (Riverside County)

atanger wrote:
I went out on for the 1st time for MFE this past Saturday to Baker Beach when the tide was pretty low in the pm. I headed West towards China and was poking and prodding my bait into as many crevices as I could. No luck but I wanted to ask the more experienced MFE fisherman what type of habitat do they prefer? Not many tide pools and most of the larger boulders/rocks were facing towards the waves. I am not sure if MFE,during low tide, prefer a minimal wave action, heavy, or no water contact? Tried climbing on top of the rocks and no luck their either.
Might be just the location.


Never pokepoled or caught a monkeyface myself but a bit of time on YouTube...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xwt92wPTI70

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYDcqrhjXG8&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCPQXOHODGo&feature=related

And of course we can't leave out Mr. Lombard's video from Wholphin...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1imKc0IjLY&feature=related

hope they help Smile

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*** I'm back in Riverside County now. Anyone around up for some fishing? What about So Cal beaches?
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