How To Skin & Fillet A Burbot

Every winter, I look forward to catching my very favourite freshwater delicacy – burbot! When I first started catching burbot, I will admit that I was baffled by the best way to prepare them. This method of “pulling the pants” off a burbot is not the only way to clean them, but in my mind, is the easiest method.

How to skin and fillet a burbot. Credit: Raeanne O’Meara.
Credit: Raeanne O’Meara.

Getting set up to skin burbot is simple. Find a post or tree and sink a nail, and screw or hook firmly into it. A comfortable height would be somewhere around face level to make pulling off the skin an easy, fluid motion. Once you have your spot picked out, you are ready to clean burbot!

 

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Step 1: Hang the burbot on the nail

Make a shallow incision (just enough to cut through the skin) all the way around the base of the head. Next, poke the knife through the lower jaw of the burbot. Hang the burbot by its lower jaw onto the nail.

Step 2: Pull the skin off the burbot

Using a pair of pliers, start to gently pull on the skin where you made the shallow incision. Do this at a few spots around the head to get it started – once it starts to go, it should peel off in one smooth motion.

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Step 3: Fillet the burbot

Now that the skin is removed, you can fillet the burbot. Run the knife along one side of the backbone all the way down to the tail. You can follow the rib bones towards the belly, which will allow the loin of the burbot to peel freely. Repeat on the other side.

Depending on the size of the burbot, there may not be a lot of useable meat on the belly – but it is delicious fried up fresh with just a little bit of butter, salt and pepper. Just be sure to check for worms in this part of the meat, as this is where they will be found. I can count on one hand the number of times I have found worms in the meat, so it doesn’t happen often, but it’s something to be aware of.