How To Skin Perch For The Dinner Table

Its hard to beat a plate of delicious perch. The soft and flaky white meat is slightly sweet and very tasty. When your done cleaning it, it comes time to remove the skin off of the fillet. The skin on the perch is firm and is attached to the meat very well. Learning how to skin perch makes for a fairly easy process but trying to remove the skin from the delicate fillet can often tear or mutilate the meat which won’t cook evenly.

Skinning the fish removes the need to scale it first. The skin on a perch is fairly tough compared to the rest of the body and its hard to get off. Because of this, many choose to leave the skin on and eat it as is. There is nothing wrong with this except that it requires you to scale the fish first which many people cannot or will not do. The skin for the most part is tasteless so it imparts no flavor or takes any away. The solution to getting that skin off all lies within the technique.

How To Skin Perch With A Fillet Knife

Equipment List

  • Fillet Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Skin On Perch Fillet
  • Knife Sharpener

Once you collect all of the essential items, move onto the next step.

Step-By-Step Instructions

A few methods exthat you can use to take the skin off of the perch fillet. The first one is to use a basic fillet knife. The method consists of running the blade of the knife between the skin and meat. Take the fillet and lay it down on the cutting board. Grab the thinner part of the meat near the tail of the carcass with your pointer finger. Take the blade of the knife and start at one end. Cut the meat starting at the end of the tail.

Cut all the way through the meat and the skin while leaving no meat on the skin at all. Continue your cut all the way throughout the length of the fillet until you get to the end. The fish should be properly skinned when this is done. At that point, it should be ready for the frying pan. There is also another way to skin it with a fillet knife. It involves leaving the fish whole while you separate the skin from the meat with your fingers. The fillet knife should be used to break up the connective tissue.

This method works well and wastes less meat but it takes longer and can become quite tiresome if you need to clean an entire stringer. The most efficient and arguably the best way is to use an electric fish skinner. Fillet the fish normally but instead of slicing through the meat with a knife, turn on the electric skinner and let it do the work. The electric skinner makes the fish jump out of its underwear. They wont waste any meat or do any slicing at all. Instead, the skinner just runs the fish skin through a separator. This is usually best.

Now For The Fun Part

We  went over which ways are the most common but there are other methods too. Take the whole fish and pierce the knife through the skin of the fish on either side of the dorsal fin. Run the knife along the spine all the way down to the tail. Slip your fingers into the inside of the fish and between the skin and meat. Use your fingers to slide the skin off of the fish. Work your way all the way down the sides gently sliding the skin off of the carcass. When both sides are completely free, break the backbone with the knife.

After that, grab the fish below the broken backbone and pull the skin off using force. At this point, there should be the tail and one fin remaining. Use a sharp knife the cut the fin off. This makes a perfectly skinned piece of meat. It is boneless. It is not connected to any of the internal organs. This is a great method if you want to deep fry your fish whole. The tail crisps up like fish bacon in the fryer.

Why Removing That Skin Is Important

The skin on a perch is unique because it affect frying if its is left on. The skin shrivels up and becomes tough when cooked. For this reason, it is usually better to use the skin for something else other than consumption. The skin makes nice wallets and pretty belts. Take your knife and make sure that you clean up any bones left inside to prevent them from ending up in your mouth later.

The skin of many perch is literally garbage. Unless you are consuming farm raised lake perch, the areas that are home to these fish often contain a lot of “unwanted” guests. Things like parasites, bacteria, and disease to name a few. This is because these fish eat the smaller fish which also eat things like mussels which filter the water’s contaminants. High levels of mercury have been found in perch from the Great Lakes, specifically the best perch waters in the world, Erie.


The process of skinning perch fillets is pretty simple once you know how but how you decide to do it is up to you. Yes, we can suggest ways and even tools to use during it but no way is absolutely perfect. In the end, the process to making that boneless fillet skinless is by using handy knife work or electronic help. Perch is a delicious and mind you, an expensive way to enjoy fish but is easily one of the easiest fish to clean and prepare.It just really determines what way fits your lifestyle better as no particular method is superior to another by any stretch of the word. What is the way you skin perch? Leave us a comment below!

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