Snapper are considered by Ricky Richoux of Slimeslingers Professional Fish Cleaning as hard-boned fish, somewhat more difficult to clean than speckled trout and tuna.
As with redfish and drum, their heavy bone structure and large scales make fine cuts difficult, resulting in large amounts of delicious flesh left to be discarded on the carcass.
Richoux will use all three of his knives for cleaning snappers; the bulk of the work will be done with the F. Dick Stiff blade.
Cleaning cuts are initially made shallowly to break the skin. These are followed by deeper cuts, made with short strokes, to free the fillet from the carcass.
The right tools
Cutting through hard, heavy snapper rib cages will quickly dull a knife, so he turns to his Dexter Russell Tiger Edge knife for the task.
If the fillets are to be skinned rather than left on the half-shell, he will use his F. Dick Flex for the job.
Cleaning snapper throats, the part of the fish he said he likes best, is a specialty of Richoux’s.
“There was a time,” he says, “when you could go to New Orleans and order fried snapper throats. You don’t hear much of it any more.”
A “snapper throat” is the area where the paired pectoral and pelvic fins meet, where if fish did have a throat in the mammalian sense, the throat would be.
The muscles there, while well-developed to help the fish maneuver its fins, receive little exercise, resulting in what Richoux calls “tender, sweet meat.”
Richoux can be reached at 504-415-0039.
Step 1 – Thoroughly scale the throat area where the pectoral and pelvic fins meet.