jun 05 2008

Filleting ballan wrasse

Published by at 7:12 pm under Fish and fishing,Seafood

The ballan wrasse (Labrus Bergylta) is a common fish along the coast of countries around the North Sea. In the summer the wrasse seek to shallow waters where they are easy to catch. The ballan wrasse is a regular visitor to my fishing nets when the nets are set on shallow water close to the shore. The wrasse is also easy to catch by using a regular fishing rod. You may then use a small fishing hook and bait it with periwinkles found in the shoreline.

Ballan wrasse

In Norway there are no commercial fishery for ballan wrasse, and most recreational fishermen are not interested in the large and «bony» wrasse. Most people are therefore surprised when they finally get a chance to taste this unpopular fish.

It is surprisingly easy to fillet a wrasse. You do not need to clean the fish before you start filleting. First you make a deep and long cut from the neck to the ventral fin.

filleting ballan wrasse

Then you take a firm grip on the fishtail and start to move the knife forward, towards the first cut. This will give you a nice fillet with no bones.

To fillet ballan wrasse

When removing the skin you may use a pincer to get a firm grip on the skin. Let the knife blade point a bit downwards while you «saw» off the skin.

Skinning ballan wrasse

It helps if you make sideways moves with the pincer; pulling the fillet slowly towards you. Let the knife do the job. Then turn the fish around and repeat. That’s all!

Fillet of ballan wrasse

20 responses so far

20 Responses to “Filleting ballan wrasse”

  1. Moon 09 jun 2008 at 3:20 pm

    Now I want to fry up that fillet and have it with some chips and a good malt vinegar!

  2. adminon 10 jun 2008 at 10:45 pm

    Yes Mo! The ballan wrasse tastes very good. I use to fry the fillets. Ballan wrasse is also my favorite fish for my fish soup.

  3. A.on 13 jun 2008 at 5:50 pm

    Fish soup? Oh, recipe please :)

  4. John Gilmouron 18 jun 2008 at 9:14 pm

    I’ve always wondered how to fillet Wrasse, folk round here consider it to be inedible!! I’lll give it a go


  5. adminon 19 jun 2008 at 10:55 am

    Thanks for commenting John and Ann! The wrasse tastes good, a little bit «sweeter» than cod and saithe. Regarding the fish soup, I may publish a recipe. I’ll take some pictures next time I make fish soup.

  6. RennyBAon 30 jun 2008 at 2:53 pm

    I remember I was fishing Bergylte a lot when I was a boy. I can’t remember we eat it that much though.

    But now I know its a delicacy and even more: boil the head and the bones after filleting it the way you so greatly have explained and then you have the best base for a fish soup :-)

  7. azman hashimon 02 jul 2008 at 2:06 am

    hehehe great fish i like… you can tell me what the best recipe for a fish

  8. adminon 02 jul 2008 at 2:56 pm

    Yes Renny, it is very easy to catch ballan wrasse (;bergylt in Norwegian). I know that some people prefer to salt the fillets for some hours. I use the fillets «as they are». I just add some salt and pepper and fry them or I cut them in smaller pieces and add them in a fish soup. You may also do as Renny; make a stock based on the head and bones.

  9. Larson 14 jul 2008 at 5:17 pm

    Oh! The poor fish!
    Oh! The poor fish!
    Oh! The Pandeism, Pandeistic Pandeism, so pandeistically assaulted!!!

  10. BretagneAngleron 30 jul 2008 at 3:17 pm

    Ballan Wrasse Soup Recipee!


    1 whole ballan wrasse
    1 twig rosemary
    1 whole onion cut in quarters
    1 teaspon ginger
    black pepper (ground)
    1 whole ripe tomatoe cut in quarters
    1 cup of diced leeks
    3 cups of water


    Clean the wrasse by removing the scales, intestine and gills. Cut the wrasse in pieces of 3 or two depending on how big it is.

    in a pot, put the fish, and all the ingredients on top. cover the pot and bring to boil for 20-30 minutes or until the eyes of the fish detached from the socket.

    Serve hot with baget or rice!

    Enjoy folks!

  11. adminon 30 jul 2008 at 3:18 pm

    Thank you for recepie BretagneAngler! I will try that one!

  12. Jakeon 09 mai 2009 at 11:57 am

    I love catching wrasse, such great sport!
    I wasn’t aware we could eat them, I regret throwing back my 3 pounder now!
    Fishing tomorow for sure, then fish for tea.

  13. Graymanon 06 jun 2009 at 5:45 pm


    If anyone tries this can you let me know how it is?

    Just came back from an unsuccessful spear fishing outing but let tons of wrasse swim on by.


  14. keithon 30 sept 2010 at 10:02 pm

    caunght it to day’ just wondered wot to do with the smelly thing but now i no its eaterble thankyou.

  15. Geiron 26 okt 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Just back from fishing. Got a nice Berggylte (Wrasse) 2,3 kg and looking foreard to make a realt good fishsoup tomorrow.

  16. 17.11.2010 Kap?da? av? kikla karag?zon 18 nov 2010 at 7:17 am

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  17. henryon 20 feb 2011 at 9:49 pm

    wrasse is discusting its the worst tasting fish ever and it has the teeth of a cat !

  18. calvynon 26 jun 2011 at 8:10 pm

    caught a wrasse at the hoe off dover looking forward to tasting the little bugger

  19. wunnellon 18 sept 2012 at 1:22 pm

    put in a piece of doubled over tin foils, stick a slice or two of Orange (I didn’t have any lemon LOL) in the gut cavity, brush both sides of fish with olive oil and season with smoked sea salt and black pepper, seal the tin foil, then cook on a cast iron hot plate for 6 mins each side. serve whole with a side order of toast, to be picked from bones with fork

  20. Paddle Pursuitson 09 mar 2014 at 8:34 pm

    I’m not a huge fan of the taste of wrasse either. However, I will have to give that recipe a try. Thanks BretagneAngler!