How to care for your catch and wow your dinner guests.
Gag grouper and triggerfish are buried in ice to ensure the best tasting fillets.
Not many of us treat our meat fish as we should, and there are steps you can take to improve the dinner you make for your family.
First off, understand it’s the blood and body fluid that make fish taste “fishy.” Generally speaking, pelagic and other bloody fish such as red snapper taste stronger than deep water bottom fish whose flesh is firmer and carries less blood than most shallow water species. That doesn’t mean there’s not a lot you can do to make your fish taste better.
For starters, you need to understand that fish bruise just like you do. Drop a fish to the deck, and you’ll often be able to see the bruises afterwards at the cleaning table. A bruise is nothing more than blood rushing to the site of an injury to help the healing process.
Secondly, learn to bleed most of the fish you catch. I never really thought about bleeding anything but tuna, until I hooked a gag grouper one day, and his back third was stolen by a barracuda. I am telling you that was the whitest meat, best tasting gag grouper ever. Now I can’t tell you every fish we catch gets bled, but I will tell you that we take far better care of what we keep than we ever thought of 20 years ago, and there’s no question we are eating better fish.
The whole process starts with ice. We usually carry at least 80 pounds of crushed ice in 20-pound bags. When we leave the dock bag number one is broken open and scattered in the box to lower the box temperature. In our area we catch a lot of blackfin tuna, and we’re ready when the first one comes aboard. A tiny incision is cut behind each pectoral fin, all the way to the bone. Then a short piece of small diameter rope is looped around the tail,…