By Andrew ‘Korg’ Jarvis
During the week I noticed a story out of Shark Bay on the internet about some fish in the fish bin at the main cleaning table that had been filleted so carelessly that much of the edible meat had been wasted.
It was really not a good look and made rec fishers look very bad in the eyes of the community.
In Shark Bay especially there is a big push from certain groups and individuals including the local council to get bag limits reduced, and thoughtless actions like this give them fuel for their fight.
Where I am leading to with this is that a lot of fishers tend to waste much of the fish that we catch and simply use the fillets.
This is ok when talking about a whiting or herring, but it is my opinion, the days of wasting most of a demersal fish are numbered as increased pressure is being put on our fish stocks.
So, what do I mean by this?
I for one, say 10 years ago, would catch a fish like pink snapper and just fillet them and dispose of everything else and think nothing of it.
And it wasn’t until an Asian friend asked me for any fish frames I wasn’t going to use.
At first, I thought this was really good as it saved me the trouble of getting rid of them. Then I got thinking about what exactly did he do with them?
I will get to that in a moment, but I think the diet and taste buds of your average Joe or Josephine has changed massively over the last 20 years, partly with the influence of the Asian food culture.
The thoughts of a fish soup or curry is more tempting to most of us.
I for one now try and use as much of any demersal fish I catch. This starts from the moment I catch my fish.
My fish are dispatched by iki jime, then bled as soon as they are caught. Before they get put on ice they are gutted, and the stomach cavity is thoroughly washed out.
The only fish that is the exception to this is Bight redfish as their razor-sharp scales make it impactable to do.
This gives you a near perfect base to use as much of the fish as possible when you get home.
This starts with the wings, those of you that have never had fish wings on the barbecue have been missing out big time.
Cooking wings on a hot plate can be as simple as just chucking them on and cooking them through.
Some people like to season them with whatever your poison is and wrap then wrap them in silver paper and cook them like that.
Both ways are just as good, and you will be really surprised by how much meat is on them.
While you have the barbecue going, how about thinking of cooking the fish frames on it?
I sprinkle the frames with some lemon pepper and olive oil before cooking, then just serve the frame on a platter and everyone can help themselves with a fork to some of the tastiest flesh on the fish.
I cannot think of nicer meal, especially when normally you would have just thrown them away. It’s a win-win situation. I am running out of space to spend much time on what I do with the heads, but a lot of my fish heads / frames / wings get boiled to make stock and importantly to give me yummy white meat to make my number one fish meal – a creamy fish chowder.
Between a couple of mates, we have started a bit of a fish chowder war with us constantly battling to beat each other’s product. This stock and meat can also be used for a myriad of other meals like curries, fish cakes etc.
By using a different mindset, we perhaps should be happy with catching less. By using each fish to its fullest potential as a food source and maybe, just maybe, our kids and grandkids will still have fish to catch in the future.