Sunday, June 24, 2007
To Filet A Fish
Having recovered sufficintly from my fishing expedition and having slept in until ten in the morning, I knew that my adventure wasn't about to end - I had utilize what I'd learned during Stan's final lesson and filet my fish! I put on an apron, grabbed a cutting board, newspapers, a bowl, some knives, retreived the fish from the fridge, and headed outside.
I dragged an old table into the shade of my backyard tree and set up all my stuff so I could get to work. I extracted the first fish from the plastic bag, and, instead of the fantastic creature from the lake of the day before, what greeted me was a picky and slimey dead creature from the lake one day later. But, mom can't be squeamish, you know, so she got to work, chopping off the heads and gutting the fish.
As I chopped I sang a little ditty: "Fish heads, fish heads, lovely, lovely fish heads!" to the first head whose cloudy eye stared skyward from the edge of the newspaper. The flies loved me! It wasn't so bad, I supposed. I figured out how to take off the head and a set of fins with one chop, all the while thinking about the fishmonger's wife, whomever she is. Next I figured out how to make two cuts along the stomach to remove the fins there so I could scoop out the guts. If you've never done this before, you haven't yet lived.
Now, as Stan told me not to try to filet without a filet knife because I would end up wasting the flesh and chopping my fingers off, I opted to descale them. It's not too bad, but the scales fly all over the place. In my hair, down my shirt, and onto my bare toes. I made the best of it, hosing myself, the cleaned fish, and the table down when I was all finished.
I wondered if I would have the stomach to eat the fish once I had cleaned them. I decided the best thing to do was not to think about how gross it had been, but to concentrate on the best way to cook these fish. I had always seen my mother pan fry them. I salted and peppered the fish and melted a stick of butter in a non-stick pan. Bluegill fry up quickly, about five minutes per side, I turned them only once and after the skins were golden brown. Of course, the kids wouldn't touch the fish, I'm not sure if any kid likes fish except for the ones who come in the unrecognizable forms of stick or patty, but I did. It's a little trouble eating them, watching out for the bones, but they were so fresh and so tasty! And despite the work of cleaning them, nothing beats the flavor of the fish you catch yourself.