TIPS FOR LOOKING AFTER YOUR CATCH!
Article by Rob Meneguz
I was taught at a young age the importance of not wasting your food, so now when I go fishing I am extremely conscious of only keeping what I plan to use. By 'use' I mean to either eat myself, give to family or friends for a feed or use as bait. There is no doubt certain fish species are better eating than others, however with the specific care and treatment methods used after catching your fish, even a 'neighbors fish' (those generally considered average eating), can be 'good on the chew'.
The Samson fish pictured above is one of those fish that are not considered the best 'table fish' especially once they exceed the 15kg mark. This one weighed a little over 16kg, so after landing it I had to make a quick decision to keep or release. As this one was the largest Sampson fish I have caught land based, I decided to keep this one and see how creative I could be in the kitchen. In order to make sure the quality of the fish was retained to the highest standard, I followed some crucial steps to ensure the flesh was the absolute best it could be. Once the fish hit the sand I quickly grabbed my Ikipik Fish Spike Tool which I highly recommend as a must have in your tackle box. The Ikipik Fish Spike Tool is an easy to use device that allows you to swiftly and humanely penetrate through the brain of the fish and ensure a quick end to your catch and longer lasting fillets. I also inserted a knife into the neck of the fish to release as much blood out of the flesh as possible.
I gave the fish a quick rinse in the ocean to get the sand off and slid it into my insulated fish bag. I highly recommend always heading out with an insulated catch bag. They are great for storing your catch and make it easier to transport them back to your car. I kept this Sampson fish in the insulated catch bag on ice for 2 days whilst away up north to make sure the fish flesh was nice and firm before preparing it for a feed. Normally 1-2 days is ideal.
One thing I always make sure of is that my knives are extremely sharp before starting for a number of reasons. Sharp knives will make filleting much easier, meaning you will waste a lot less meat and be more productive. Another reason is safety, a sharp knife is MUCH safer than a blunt knife. If your knives are blunt you will need to use a lot more force to cut through flesh. Force, when used in the incorrect position can cause knives to slip resulting in injury. I recommend getting yourself at least 1 good filleting knife to make the task easier and a good quality knife will hold its edge sharper for longer.
Before you finish make sure you remove ALL the red meat. The red meat will leave a very fishy taste in your mouth if consumed. As I was filleting the fish I was pleasantly surprised by the colour and firmness of the flesh. Once I removed all the flesh and the filleting was complete, I packaged up the fillets into portion sizes. I like to leave the fish in large slabs that serve 2-4 people to leave my options open in regard to the type of meal I plan to make with it such as fish curry, fish steaks, nuggets, battered, grilled, BBQ etc.
I vacuum seal all my fish as it keeps fresher for longer. Make sure you label each pack with a date to make sure you don’t leave older fish at the bottom of the freezer aging away and be sure to clearly label the fish species. For those of you going on longer fishing trips, be sure to also label your fillets with the weight to ensure you are sticking to your bag limits. For more details on this visit www.fish.wa.gov.au. Vacuum sealed fish has proven to last up to 2 years whereas if you just put it in any old way you may find anything over 6-12 months may get freezer burn. Vacuum sealing removes all the air out of the packaging which prevents deterioration so check out the Vacuum Sealers and packaging we have in store.
The Sampson fish pictured has so far been consumed over a few meals since capture in various methods. Even when I fried up a few fillets with a basic egg and flour batter with some salt and pepper and served with a basic salad and chips... it was DELICOUS!
I then stepped it up a notch to try out a Thai Red Curry recipe thanks to www.TASTE.com which I've made before with chicken and absolutely loved. You will see some photos below of the preparation and finished product of this tasty Thai Red Fish Curry and it 'blew my socks off'... very very good! See recipe link below.
You can see how perfect these fillets are and how fresh they look. I have no doubt the way this fish was carefully taken care of resulted in the quality of flesh that you can see here.
For any tips and tricks on recipes, filleting techniques, fish storage solutions, vacuum sealer info etc, please feel free to pop into the store for a chat!