Jerrys Bait
664 Woodville Hwy, Crawfordville, FL 32327 • 850-421-3248 between Tallahassee and St. Marks, FL.
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Throats, Cheeks and Backbones... by Capt. Tony Murray
These are absolute delicacies and I see them discarded all too often. We make a meal out of nothing but those; and the kids go crazy over them. By using all of the fish; it is a sign of respect for the animal as well as the resource. A whole meal out of what some people discard; think about it. If you haven't tried grilled grouper throats, sautéed grouper cheeks, and smoked backbones in sesame ginger marinade before, you will not believe what you are missing...
Here's the easiest way to do it:
I always wear a Kevlar fish cleaning glove on my left hand; and my knives are kept extremely sharp at all times.
The process of removing the throat of fish is the same for any large fish. Cobia, snapper and amberjack are exceptional!
Throat Removal Technique

The head of gag grouper is all
too often discarded.

The first cut is on both sides of the thin membrane which connects the gills to the throat; on this 23" grouper it is about a 4" long cut 'C' shaped cut. This cut is made
on both sides of the fish.

The second cut is performed where the gill plates and throat meet; with a sharp knife at the exact location it is a quick cut.   If you don't find this exact location; you will need a serrated knife to saw through some bone.
Insert your thumb into the front part of the throat and gently rock backwards
Continue to pull and separate; note the separation of the bones on the top; here is where you cut; cut between the bones - not through them.   If you don't find the joint of this pulley bone; a pair of tin snips, lopping shears or a serrated knife will work.

Cut and pull; it will require a bit of force to separate the tissues and membranes.

Final pull out;

The removed throat; the membranes have not been removed from this yet; I use a pair of catfish skinning pliers to clean it up prior to washing.
This entire process
can be done in 20 seconds.
Cheek Removal Technique (below)

The incision point for the first cut; note the angle of the knife is ~145 degrees; a quick pop at the butt of the knife inserts the blade.

A conical cut is made about the inserted tip of the knife in one smooth move;

Keep cutting until almost completing
a full circle;

Leave a tab of skin connecting it to
make the skinning easier;

Run your blade parallel to the
meat and skin

Use one smooth cut

The head with the throat and cheek removed.  The head is the perfect size for the fish trap, also. 
The grill all set to go

The throats with Mrs. Dash's seasoning, lemon pepper, garlic and melted butter

The backbones; with the dorsal, anal
and caudal fins removed
Throats have to be eaten fresh, as do backbones.
The cheeks are best fresh, but if frozen in milk they keep well and they are a lot like large scallops.
Enjoy, Conserve and Protect - with best regards, Tony Murray
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updated March 25, 2008
Thank you to SPORTFISHING Magazine for Referencing my website and pages!
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