Saturday, 21 January 2012

Fish Adventures

We were discussing at lunch what to have for dinner last night and Bill reminded me that we were out of tinned tuna.  It being reasonably early still, we decided to have a walk down to the fish quay.  I've talked before about the marvelous offer Taylor's have of a pound of fish for £1.  This time it was a box of fish for £5.   Bill pointed out his preferred box.   I noticed there was a little red one in amongst all the bigger white & brown fish.

I have to confess to finding this a bit of hard work this time.  There was a large tray on display of what I can only guess was fish tripe.  The place didn't smell bad at all, but my asthma was playing up and somehow with all the water on the floor and that tray of offal I was thinking longingly of nice neat frozen fillets or tidy little tins.  However, being a stalwart tightwad, I joined the queue and even instructed Bill to snatch up his chosen box before someone else grabbed it.   The woman behind the counter identified cod, haddock and the little red gurnard. 

I was thinking this was un-processed fish, like the sign said.  As we walked home along the prom there were swarms of birds:  seagulls, herring gulls and rooks.  I wondered if they would swoop down on the bag Bill was carrying but apparently they had easier sources from the cars full of folks eating fish and chips.  When we got home I put on my rubber gloves and took up a knife, mentally girding myself to gut each of the fish.   It's been years since I did this, but it must be rather like riding a bicycle.  As it turned out all but the small gurnard were already gutted, so I just did that one which was easy enough once started.  I'd never seen one of these before.  It reminded me of a small dragon with all the red spiny bits; his mouth was nearly like a bird's bill, a funny creature it was. 



I weighed up the fish and it came to 4.8 kg or 10.6 pounds; less than 50p per pound.  Sure, some of that is in the heads and bones and I'm afraid I'm going to waste the opportunity to make fish stock as it's completely out of my comfort zone to even consider what I might use it for.   I'm from Oklahoma, remember, I didn't grow up with a fishstock heritage.   I bagged three of the fish large separately, and put the smallest cod/haddock in with the gurnard.  That's four fish meals for future. 

We'll both have a fine meal off that single large fish and for about the same price as a tin of tuna.  You can't say fairer than that.

7 comments:

Rick Stone said...

WOW, You clean fish? I'm impressed. I don't even clean fish. Guess that is one reason I really never liked going fishing with my Dad. (Actually, hunting either.) Whatever you catch (or shoot) had to be cleaned. Personally I'd just as soon catch Mrs. Smith's at the frozen food counter in the supermarket.

Suburban Princess said...

At the point of having to clean the fish I would decided to start putting a value on my time. And my sensibilities.

Shelley said...

@Rick - Well, my Dad taught me to do it sort of like a biology lesson, so I didn't really mind it as a kid. Mind, nothing we ever brought home from the lake was even half the size of these suckers.

@SP - Your sensibilities - that's a great way of putting it! I value my time, but since I don't work it's a little hard to how much it's worth. I tend to value my energy more. I did know that at any time I could have chickened out and Bill would have taken over, but that was the very thing that kept me going. I didn't think it was fair to dump the messy job on him. And I didn't have to clean them after all. The gurnard didn't have any 'guts' to speak of at all.

Terri said...

I'm very impressed by the price of this fish! It has been years since I've cleaned fish (the last time we'd been ice-fishing and one of the frozen fish came to life as I was fileting it! Yikes). We eat quite a lot of fish soups at our house--begin by adding potatoes. Think chowder and then throw in whatever is on hand. We eat lots of what we call our "garbage" soups.

Sandra said...

Impressed beyond words...having grown up in the southwest, my access to fresh fish was pretty much "catfish", which my dad liked to fish for, but hated to eat. I now like catfish. My mother loved to fish, but couldn't touch the worms or the fish, so had white gloves in her tackle box. I am pleased that today I eat more fish, but I'll buy mine flash frozen from Trader Joe's. Good for you Shelley...pioneer woman after my heart.

Shelley said...

Dear Terri, I think we probably eat 'leftover' soups that are fairly unpredictable; I would never write recipes that combine some of those ingredients,but they generally come out OK. It's the 'yuck' aspect of actual fish that makes me hesitate to extend their use. I can't say I've ever really appreciated the aroma of fish, and of course smell is a major component of taste. The fish we get from the fish quay have so far always tasted really nice even if they have been a bit fiddly to eat in some cases. The main problem we had with this fish dinner was that it was so much larger than we were used to cooking, it had to go back in the oven twice! I'm sure as we adjust to dealing with 'real fish' we will eventually become more adventurous, as we are with other foods.

Shelley said...

Hey Sandra! Great to 'see' you here! I grew up eating sunfish, rainbow trout and catfish that my parents caught on their very occasional fishing trips to nearby lakes. I loved playing with the earthworms and minnows! I could put a worm on a hook, but not a minnow. I thought minnows were too cute to kill but my Dad convinced me that worms didn't have sufficient nervous system to feel pain. No idea if he was right, but as interesting as I find the fishermen's catches around the coast and the riverside, I'm not likely to pursue that hobby at all - too cold and to scary what might come out of that water on my hook!