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I've seen filets served both ways. I personally feel that fish - especially trout - should be served skin down. I want to use a fork to pick the flesh away unimpeded.

But I've seen Jaime Oliver and one of my favorite restaurants in DC (Le Diplomat) serve trout skin side up.

Is there a best practice here?

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I think it depends on which fish, and the way it's cooked. If it's steamed,poached, or en papillote, fish skin can be quite unappealing to some diners, and, as you say, the conventional way to eat the fish would be to lift the flesh from the skin, especially if at the same time you are parting the flesh from the bones.

But if it's an oilier or meatier fish, pan-fried or grilled, the skin can be deliberately crisped, in which case it's intended to be eaten. (This, again, is much easier to eat if the fish has been filleted from the bone before cooking.) In that case, it is sometimes more attractive, and keeps the skin crisper, to serve it skin-side up.

  • when the skin in unappealing, it it usually removed before plating. – Max Aug 12 '18 at 11:28
  • @Max, not always. It is not that uncommon to leave the skin to keep the fillet together. In the US at least is seems more common to remove unless it is intended to be eaten or at least a reasonable option, but that is far from universal. – dlb Aug 13 '18 at 12:32
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In a restaurant setting:

I think the best practice is that if the skin is nicely crispy and meant to be eaten, then it should be plated to show it.

If the skin is not meant to be eaten, then it should be removed before plating.

If the skin is unappealing, then it should be removed before plating

At home, do whatever you want to do.

  • 1
    Hehe.. maybe the restaurants you enjoy the most have more 'finesse' than the restaurants I enjoy the most.. the perfection I relish is very simple. Often, the fatty layer just beneath the skin of a fish can make a significant contribution to its flavor, even if the skin itself is not eaten. So long as that's not removed with the skin, I'm with you. And if fish is served on the bone, then the skin can help hold the flesh together, while filleting on the plate? – Robin Betts Aug 12 '18 at 13:30

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