How to cut, clean, de-bone, fillet mackerel fish

Mackerel clean

In this post, I provide detailed instructions with photos and a video about how to cut, clean, de-bone, fillet mackerel fish before stuffing it with masala for fish fry, ‘bharillo bangdo’ and ‘recheado bangdo’. Mackerels are cut in different ways depending on the dish you want to prepare with them. So depending on the recipe, we cut clean, de-bone, fillet the mackerel fish.

The Indian mackerel fish is known by different names throughout India. In Goa, the Konkani name for mackerel is bangdo or bangde. In some other parts of India, they are called bangude, ayla, bangda, etc. It is a medium sized fish and has no scales. In Goa, we consume fresh mackerel as well as sundried mackerels which are called as ‘khare bangde’ in Konkani. The procedure for cleaning both these varieties is different. In this post we will be discussing the method to clean fresh mackerel.

How to clean the mackerel?

Irrespective of the way you want to cut or fillet the fish, the basic cleaning procedure remains the same. First, the fins need to be cut. Mackerel has 3 pairs of fins. Next the head portion from the mouth to the gills needs to be cut off. The next step is to clean the stomach of the mackerel. A small slit is made near the stomach and the gut and other black waste is removed and discarded. The mackerel is then washed thoroughly under running tap water. Cleaning the stomach portion well is very important. Else the wish would smell even after cooking and give a weird taste.

How to cut the mackerel?

Once the fish is cleaned as listed above, it is time to cut the fish according to the recipe. For Goan curry like bangdyachi uddamethi, bangdyache hooman or bangdyache sukhe, the cleaned fish is chopped horizontally into medium sized pieces. Usually, we cut each mackerel into 3 pieces. For rava fry, we can directly use the cleaned mackerel as it is or cut them into pieces like for curry. These 2 ways of cutting are very easy and anyone can learn them in a jiffy.

The cutting gets tricky when you need to fillet the mackerel and remove the bone for Goan recipes like ‘masala stuffed bango’, ‘bharillo bangdo’ or ‘recheado bangdo’. Filleting the fish and separating the bone from the flesh requires skill and technique. And this is exactly what we will be teaching in this ‘How to’ posts.

Mackerel clean
Prep Time: 2 mins
Total Time: 2 mins


  • Mackerel Fish


  • Mackerel fish has 1 fin on each side of the head near the gills. Cut off this fin with the help of the fish cutting scissors.
  • Mackerel has 2 fins on the lower side along the stomach. Pull these fins out fully and cut off.
  • Mackerel has 2 fins on the upper side along the back portion. Pull these fins out fully and cut off.
  • Scrape the skin of the mackerel to remove any scales or dirt. Mackerels usually donot have scales.
  • Pull open the head portion of the mackerel on both sides and cut off the head.
  • Slit open the stomach of the mackerel.
  • Pull out the contents of the stomach and discard.
    Wash the inner side of the stomach under running tap water to remove any residue.
  • Near the cut off head portion of the fish, place the knife on the upper side of the bone.Slice the flesh while keeping the sharp edge of the knife inclined downwards and pressing against the bone. Starting at the head portion of the fish continue cutting downwards towards the tail. The upper portion of the flesh will be separated from the bone.
  • Again near the cut off head portion, place the knife on the lower side of the bone. Slice through the flesh while holding the knife inclined upwards and pressing against the bone. Staring at the head portion continue cutting downwards towards the tail. The lower portion of the flesh will be separated from the bone.
  • The fish bone will now be separated from the flesh. Break the bone off and discard it.
  • Cut off the tail of the mackerel.
  • Wash the mackerel well under running tap water. The fillet mackerel is ready for masala stuffing.

Tips & Tricks

  • De-boning fish perfectly needs a lot of practice. Beginners would struggle a little and would take time to fillet the fish. A lot of flesh might remain attached to the bone and get wasted. But after cutting 2-3 fish you will get a hack of it.
  • This method of cleaning fish is followed only when you need to stuff the fish with some masala paste/filling/stuffing. We have a separate video on how to cut mackerel fish for curries/pickles etc.
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