How to deal with bone infested fish?

I had bought some whole large herring, goddamn between the scales and bones they were barely edible. The bones get stuck in your gums, in your throat, in your esophagus, it is horrible!

I’ve avoided buying a lot of fresh fish because many are simply barely edible because of this bone issue and stick to shark and kingfish.

How do you deal with fish that has millions of filament bones?

Stew them for a long time in vinegar or, as the Japanese do with loaches, sake. That’ll soften the bones. Another way is pressure cook them like sardines and tuna.

First, de-scale. Don’t bother with a de-scaler, your own hands or the blunt side of a knife work well.

Then, open each fish from asshole to right under the mouth. Again, with most fishes you can do this without any tools if you’ve got healthy nails. Take out the guts. Rinse for a second (don’t drown the fish, it’s dead and gutted already). Except for some specially-sadistic fishes such as catfish or red mullet, the bones are all either forming the fins or sprouting from the spine: the “back” of the fish has bones all along; the “front” has a row of bones from tail to ass and two rows (the bones in these may be softer) surrounding the abdominal cavity. Stick one nail between the bones and meat (the meaty part of the finger faces the meat of the fish) and move it along to separate them. Rip one on side one, bottom fish; rip two on side one, top/back of fish; turn fish around, rip rip. Break the spine at each end once it’s separated from the meat. Toss it away. Takes a lot less time to do it than to explain it: if it didn’t, my family wouldn’t have had the tons of anchovies I’ve cleaned!

Also, give flat fishes a try: those don’t even need to be gutted, both the length-wise fins and the bones come off very cleanly once cooked. The fins are usually cut off somewhat to make the fish less bulky and thus easier to fit into the pan. In general, “dark” fishes such as anchovies or herring need more cleaning than “white” ones such as cod or flat fishes, and the smaller the fish, the worst it is to clean.

Make fish balls.

Google gar balls. Gar is a boney, underrated fish that the cajuns have been making tasty since forever. Herring is damned oily, so adjust accordingly.

Another possibility: Make fish stock. Filter the liquid after preparing the stock, and use it to make a nice soup.

What kind of bones? Salmonids, like trout, are full of pin bones all along the sides of the filet. These are not very obvious unless you know to look for them, the ribs and such are easy to get out. You can eat the bones, but if annoyed I just use needle nose pliers to yank them out. Some Internet sites say use any other type of pliers except needle nose, but that didn’t work for me. You can also buy bone pullers at sporting goods stores.

I am not convinced that gar is completely tasty. I think humans just want to maintain that they’re the apex predator and pretend that a nearly 10 foot fish-monster-dinosaur can’t eat them.

A spoon is also good for scaling fish.