How to make a nice salmon fillet.
Step 1: Tools
In these pictures, you will see several ulu knives, a fillet knife, a steel and a wrapped half salmon. An ulu is an Eskimo knife that is the perfect tool for the job. These knives, made by Chase Hensel, are Yup'ik-style, from Western Alaska, where salmon is the staple food (an ulu also does a bang up job cutting frozen meats and fish but these instructions are for a fresh or fully thawed salmon). These ulu blades are made from segments of a thick old cross cut saw blade, which is especially good for this purpose. The handles are ivory and wood. Choose the size of your ulu in proportion to the size of your fish. While we prefer to use an ulu, people also use fillet knives. In either case, you will need a sharp and rust-free blade. Use the steel frequently to keep your edge uniform.
Step 2: Wash the fish
Rinse off any blood or slime on your fish. Clean the body cavity under running water. Pat the fish dry, inside and out, with paper towels (or you can use a clean rag or cotton dish towel, if you don't mind getting it fishy).
Step 3: Cut out the fins
With the tip of your knife, or edge of the ulu, cut out the dorsal and/or ventral fins, depending on whether you have a whole salmon or a half. Angle the blade slightly down and cut along the base of the fin, just far enough in to where the bones of the fin extend. Do this on one side of the fish. Then flip it over and cut out the other side in the same way.