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Whole Red Snapper -- to scale or not?

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  • nemo Jul 4, 2009 02:13 PM
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I have a whole red snapper that I should cook today. I forgot to ask the fishmonger to scale it. I hate scaling fish -- the scales just fly everywhere. Can I skip the scaling and bake it? Will the skin peel off fairly cleanly? Can I use the head and frame for stock afterwards? Or should I filet it and use raw head and frame for stock? Thank you!

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  1. I would filet it and broil or grill the filets with lime juice and whatever seasoning you were contemplating. Score the filets a few times about half way through, both sides, so they don't curl up while cooking.

    1. Actually, there's an advantage to not scaling fish that is going to be baked since fish with scales don't stick to the pan the way fish without scales does. The disadvantage, of course, is that you can't eat the skin. But I'd say go ahead and bake it without scaling if you really hate doing it. And yes, the skin will peel off easily.

      If you want to use the head and frame for stock I would definitely filet the fish. Using already cooked fish can give the broth a stale, fishy taste.

      1 Reply
      1. re: JoanN

        Thanks, JoanN. That's pretty much what I figured would be the response. Filet it is, and raw bits for the stock pot. Many thanks.

      2. I would scale it if you plan to bake it whole. My fear would be that the scales could impart an unpleasant taste into the flesh if your fish is not very fresh. Exacty how you bake it could impact this as well. Less of an issue encased in salt or parchment and baked vs the scales directly on a pan at a high temp. I do not want to get fish scales in what I am serving. If you don't want to scale the fish cut it into fillets and simply remove the skin with the scales. I would pan fry the fish.
        If you have not filleted a grouper or Snapper before they than can be a bit more difficult than some other fish due to the bone structure.
        Although this fish is a bit from being totally cleaned you may find this interesting.

        http://www.chow.com/stories/11243

        1. Scale it ----- Stuff it ----- Bake it

          Enjoy!!!

          1. scales on the fish when you're eating it? yuk! get those in your mouth and that is *it* for the appetite.

            ~~~~~
            ps, how does a fishmonger not ask specifically if you want the fish scaled? seems like the default position!

            1 Reply
            1. re: alkapal

              I completely agree, for 3 reasons. Unless the type of fish and cooking preparation is such that the crisped skin, as can be with salmon, is part of the treat, fish skin and scales and skeleton are not your friend. I would rather my guests be comfortable eating everything on their plate, without concern for skin, scales, and pin bones. Second, fish skin impacts the flavor in a negative way, especially with delicate fish like pompano and mangrove snapper. Third, I prefer to carry home filets in my cooler, nicely done by my monger, and reserve my time and energy for other aspects of the meal.

            2. Scale.

              Please. Do. Yourself. A. Favor. Scale!

              1. Thanks, all. I started to scale it, and as they flew everywhere, I wimped out. Fileted it, made stock with head, frame, and a handful of shrimp shells, pan fried the filets and peeled off the skin with all the scales. It was just for us, not company. Then I checked the Monterey Aquarium list and found that red snapper is being over-fished so I shouldn't have bought it in the first place.

                Got it just at the fish counter in my local grocery store. When I asked the only guy there to filet it for me and save me the bones, he said he was new and really wasn't that good at breaking it down. I knew I could filet it, but then I totally blanked on asking him to scale it for me. They were fresh in that day, never frozen, smelled lovely. However, I need to stop this impulse buying and carry my Monterey Aquarium card with me.

                1 Reply
                1. re: nemo

                  Next time you find you need to scale a fish, trying doing it in the sink under running water. It helps. A little.