My mother visited her sisters and her old high school friends in Hiroshima last week. My mother has been living with us since my father passed away, and upon her return home, she presented me with a gift from my aunt. It was a homemade fish scale scraper, see photo above. I laughed out loud as soon as I saw it, knowing what it was. I have a bona fide scale remover and you can always use the back of your knife, but this makeshift one was a bit wider, and charming in its old-fashioned way and might even do the job quicker.
The next day at the supermarket, whole red sea bream (madai in Japanese, not to be confused with red snapper) was on sale. Perfect for a test, I thought! I went home and subsequently tested both scale removers, and honestly they both did the job equally well. I ended up using my aunt's bottle cap scaler to finish the job, just because.
My favorite way to prepare whole fish is simply to salt and pepper it inside and out, after you have removed the scales and guts, and to throw it on a hot grill. Served with some lemon juice and soy sauce, it's an elegant dinner in no time.