Cruising

Let's Call It Catching Page 3

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The guts of
the matter

I remember one day standing at the fish-cleaning table trying to break the head off a big wahoo; it looked like professional wrestling gone terribly wrong. It dawned on me that with every fish I'd caught I'd first slit open the belly, removed the guts, and broken off the head before cutting off the meat. Here is an easier way:

Brace the fish with the dorsal fin up and with a really sharp knife make a vertical cut along the side of the backbone from head to tail. Repeat this cut, going deeper, several times until the knife tip hits the ribs. Now make a cut just behind the head and running behind the pectoral fin down almost to the visceral cavity, being careful not to puncture it. Next, cut along the back, lightly run the knife tip along the ribs, gradually separating the flesh from the ribs. Do this for the length of the fish and then cut through the skin along the lateral line (the half-way line on the side). This is the first upper fillet.

At the back end of the fish make a cut behind the anal fin and work the lower fillet off the carcass in the same way as you did above. Repeat the entire procedure on the other side. The objection to this method is that you lose the meat on the "belly flaps," but it is fatter than the fillets and less desirable in my opinion.

When you've done both sides, put a fillet skin-side down on your table and cut through the flesh, but not the skin, at the center point. Place the knife into this cut and turn the blade flat to the table. Work the blade along between skin and meat, resisting the urge to saw, and you should end up with a clean fillet and very little wastage on the skin. The reason why you started in the middle was so you'd have the skin to hold onto when you cut back the other way, removing that fillet.

Now take two generous chunks of the fillet (perhaps after a shower), dredge them in oregano, and grill them or blacken them in smoking-hot olive oil. Then crack open a frosty bottle of chardonnay.

What to catch, and where

Here's a quick guide to the edible fish that inhabit your sailing waters

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