About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Burn Me On The Stake

Fished Western Port Bay last Sunday, I have been fishing there for forty years and my father fished it before me. It is a sadness for me that I never fished with my dad as he died when I was very young; it is also a sadness what has happened to this beautiful stretch of water. All the sea grass has pretty much gone and with it all the creatures that depended upon it for their survival. Forty years ago it was possible to see the bottom through twenty feet of water (six metres for younger folk), now mud that was held down by the sea grass, discolours the water with every breeze.

Despite this, it is still a productive stretch of water. We target King George whiting and gummy shark but catches of snapper, Australian salmon, the ubiquitous flathead and other species are possible. I finished up with a bag of whiting and flathead; I also caught a snapper but traded it for a whiting as my mate P. wanted to steam the snapper for his girlfriend. Who am I to stand in the way of love?


One thing I have never been able to understand is the fuss people make about catching a fish and cooking it as soon as possible. Sure I want my fish fresh, as it spoils so easily, but I place no premium on cooking fish the same day I catch them. In fact fish, properly looked after, is better one or two days after being caught. There, that's my heresy.

The best fish I have ever had was a piece of wild barramundi from the Northern Territory and since I was in Melbourne when I ate it, this fish must have been two days old minimum. So what's going on? Why do so many people think eating a fish the same day it's caught is best? I think the answer lies in olden times when there was no refridgeration, fish pretty much had to be eaten on the spot or risk spoiling. The only ways to preserve fish were salting, smoking or fermenting which considerably changed the taste and texture.

So why do I think the way I do? It's to do with observing what happens to fish after they die. Any fisherman will tell you that fish become stiff as a board for several hours after death and this is why they are better eating the next day ~ they relax. When you eat a fish that is in rigor mortis, the flesh is tight. When the fish has been rested, the flesh becomes tender. Pretty simple really.

King George whiting yield thin fillets that take no time to cook, about one minute on the first side and thirty seconds on the other in a very hot pan. Usually I season the fillets directly rather than season the flour, then flour them. Last night for a change I used breadcrumbs. First dipped the fillets in beaten egg, no flour, as I didn't want a thick layer of crumb ~ flour helps more breadcrumbs to stick by holding the egg on better, then pan fried the fillets in peanut oil. I prefer this with breadcrumbs rather than butter, it seems to yield a lighter result. Served them up with a wedge of lemon and a kohlrabi salad.
  posted at 10:23 am


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