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.
"Mrs. Kittyfish, we'll just drive up to one more point, it's just a couple miles further, and look at the rocks. No more, I promise"