I'm looking to start eating fish but I have never prepared any and never ate any except for smoked fish. I went to the store and saw that at least where I live, we don't have many fillets.

The best fish that I found were these, and I have no idea if they have any bones that are dangerous (the small ones), and if so, what's the best way to prepare them in a way that I wouldn't have to spend an hour eating it? I hate that!

The fish are: smelts, flounders, sprats, mackerel, rainbow trout, catfish (some weird species that I had to google up, they aren't even called catfish in my language!).

Any advice is appreciated, as I will be eating fish daily!

  • Fish choices are very dependent upon location. In order to give you the best possible answer, would you tell us where you live?
    – Jolenealaska
    Mar 24, 2016 at 11:05
  • All fish have bones, or at least a cartilage skeleton - they are vertebrates. Are you asking for fish which are completely boneless, or saying that you are OK with eating whole fish without removing the bones, or what is the question exactly?
    – rumtscho
    Mar 24, 2016 at 11:06
  • I don't mind eating skeleton or even skin, as long as it's not dangerous to do so (and the skin is not scaly, eating scales is not nice). For example I have tried herring fillets, the bones there are perfectly edible as far as I'm concerned. Same for canned tiny fish called sprats, but I'm not going to eat canned fish anymore.
    – Jack
    Mar 24, 2016 at 12:59
  • As for my location, I don't see how that's relevant because I can only afford cheaper fish, and I will be eating it daily which means mercury level has to be very low. The fish I've listed are the fish I've found. There's also herring, but I don't like the taste of cooked herring. Pickled is okay, but I'm not planning on pickling fish, I will boil it.
    – Jack
    Mar 24, 2016 at 13:00
  • 3
    @Jack : location is especially important if cost is a consideration, as unless you're looking at frozen or canned fish, you're going to want what's in season in your area.
    – Joe
    Mar 24, 2016 at 18:36

3 Answers 3


All fish have bones, some have more complicated bone structures than others. Generally the ones which you will find in the store are ones which are easier to deal with as that's what people want.

Preparation of them varies widely depending on whether they are smooth skinned, scaly, whether the skin is edible, and bone structure. Some fish like mackerel and trout can be cooked whole (just gutted and cleaned), without any scaling or filleting. Mackerel can be de-boned using your fingers.

Cooking and eating fish is not complicated or dangerous. It will be a better experience if you learn the skills to do the preparation work, youtube is your friend here as there's loads of videos on how to prepare and cook fish available.

  • I will definitely check it out, but for now I want to choose the fish to eat first. In this case - fish that I can eat without having to pick through every small piece of it, fearing to swallow a small bone that's just in the meat.
    – Jack
    Mar 24, 2016 at 13:02
  • All those fish have different textures and flavors, you probably want to try them all to find which ones you like best. I really think you are putting too much thought into it, it's really not that complex. Don't be afraid of the bones, it's not that big a deal.
    – GdD
    Mar 24, 2016 at 16:16
  • 2
    Monkfish, Shark and Tuna don't have small bones.
    – user23614
    Mar 24, 2016 at 16:27
  • I probably am, I often do. I guess I just didn't want to buy something I will be annoyed at eating and blaming myself for wasting money on it.
    – Jack
    Mar 24, 2016 at 21:56

Of the fish you listed, smelt and flounder are pretty easy to prepare. Smelt bones are soft even prior to cooking, though honestly boiling isn't an ideal preparation for fish - pan frying tends to do a much better job of breaking down the cartilaginous structures. If it's a health issue, use a light oil (though I prefer olive oil or an olive oil and butter blend). If frying is completely out of the option, baking would probably still be better than boiling.

Really, most fish aren't particularly "bony" when prepared in any common manner. The only fish I can say off hand is VERY difficult and should be completely deboned is pike, particularly Northern Pike - but you aren't likely to find them in a grocery store.

Additionally, if you are buying filets, they will typically be deboned already as part of the filetting process. If you are buying whole fish to filet yourself, you really need to learn about each fish and work to remove as much of the bone as possible as you filet them. There are ways to filet even pike so that the resulting filet has no bones at all.

  • Yea, frying's out of the question. I wanted to bake, but I have a really old electric stove, which will eat way too much electricity. I looked into buying one of those small dedicated ovens, but they cost way too much, I can't afford them, especially if I'm looking for something more than the cheapest one. I'm thinking that maybe I can use the oven twice a week (to eat fish daily), then I wouldn't need to boil the fish. I'm going to see if I can store the fish for 3-4 days in a fridge without it going bad first though.
    – Jack
    Mar 24, 2016 at 22:02
  • Fillets aren't available for anything except one cheaper fish that's some kind of weird species of catfish. I'm not sure if I want to eat it. Otherwise there's cheaper fish that is (or isn't) gutted, just the whole fish. Where I'm from, the stores are pretty bad. If you are curious, the only other fillets that I can get are those of salmon, but they are way too costly for me. The rest of the fish is just whole fish.
    – Jack
    Mar 24, 2016 at 22:04
  • As for deboning process, the main bone (spine?) is not a big problem. I never had any problems taking it away from smoked fish on any fish I have ever tried. The problems begin when we're talking the small bones in the meat which don't come from the spine. Those are the dangerous bones which lead you to nitpicking every single piece of fish. I find that so annoying! It's a horrible waste of time.
    – Jack
    Mar 24, 2016 at 22:06
  • well, the spine wouldn't be a problem if you are fileting correctly anyhow. Basically once you have the two filets separated, rub your knuckles firmly along the filets and the pin bones will "pop" out of the flesh, then you can readily grab them with tweezers (or pliers) and pull them out. It takes a bit of practice, but it's doable. Again, the type of fish is a big note here. I've never deboned smelt. In fact, you can fry (I know, no frying) them whole and eat them entirely. seriouseats.com/2011/03/nose-to-tail-fish-eating.html Mar 25, 2016 at 13:52
  • Also, just curious, why are you so concerned about the fish bones? Aside from a very slight potential choking hazard, fish bones are not a real danger. Yes, sometimes people have complications from eating fish bones, but at no higher a rate than they do eating literally any other food. It's a bit of an old wives tale that fish bones are somehow extremely dangerous. If that were the case, the population of coastal Asia would be all but gone. :p Mar 25, 2016 at 14:10

Buy a iron skillet and you can cook your fish over open fire in you yard. No cost other than scrounging some wood. Use a piece of heavy aluminum foil as a lid. Adjust temperature by height of pan above flame. As for fish, from your list flounder would be healthiest and easiest to check for bones. If you have to fillet yourself, make a cut across fish just behind head and across tail, you are not cutting head and tail off just to spine. Next make cut down spine. Start at spine and start carefully sliding your knife along rib bones towards outer edge of fish. Once fillet is separated from bones, flip it skin side down and you can slice along skin to separate leaving you a boneless skinless fillet. Repeat for other 3 fillets. Flounder does not have a lot of flavor, so you will want to use some spices. This info comes from my many years fishing and I even mated on a party boat

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