Written by Chef Alan Zox, email@example.com Friday, 09 August 2013 00:00
Head boats are 50-60 foot motor boats that carry fishermen and women to fish with rods and reels and bait or saltwater lures provided by the boat captain. The boats carry sonar to locate schools of fish and usually offer a terrific day on the water. My brother and I enjoyed these outings many times off the shores of Montauk New York and Connecticut. If the conditions were right, we could each land five to ten pound fish in a couple of hours.
Summertime brought schools of blue fish and strippers (striped bass) that challenged the best of us. We always enjoyed fishing for these species because they were a challenge to catch due to their sharp teeth and of course because of the delicious meal they provided. We loved the process involved in driving at dawn to the docks to meet and board the fishing boat; the trip out to the banks of the continental shelf where we anticipated finding large schools of fish. Most of all we reveled in the joy of catching, cleaning, preparing and eating a delicious meal. All of these steps made the trip a transcendent one.
One late August morning we left the docks early with lunches and snacks to tide us over. It was a little chilly and windy that morning but the sky was blue and the breezes were warm. Captain Tony was one of our favorites because of his skill in finding fish and his pleasant sense of humor. We were already hungry by 10:30 a.m. so we opened our cooler and shared a pastrami sandwich. All of a sudden the wind picked up and so did the fishing. One after another the 25 of us on board began to drop our silver diamond lures to the bottom and cranked up our lines as fast as we could — as Captain Tony advised. The blues kept hitting the line and the lures , and we began the heady experience of catching blue fish at a pace that was remarkable. I dropped my sandwich on the floor boards of the boat and joined my brother who had already pulled in a big twelve pounder. The excitement was palpable.
All of a sudden no more than 25 yards off the starboard side of the boat, a whirling water funnel rose to a height of about 50-75 feet in the air. Everyone was awe struck and uncertain what to do except to keep fishing. Captain Tony was silent which left us even more uncomfortable. He knew that if the funnel moved towards us let alone struck us we could capsize or tip over. But just as quickly as it arose it disappeared back to the surface and disappeared. We were relieved over our good fortune. By day’s end we had caught our fill of blues and the captain turned around and headed home. Fishing had never been so exciting. Eating the catch was a joy. The tales we told were bigger than ever — and mostly true as well.
Two Ways To Enjoy Blue Fish
Recipe #1 Simple Grilled Blue Fish — Serves 4
Clean your grill with a wire brush. Oil the grill. Buy or catch 2 pounds of blue fish filet. Put 2 tablespoons of butter on the fish. Next squeeze juice and zest of ½ lemon plus three thin round slices of lemon and pour over the fish. Shake Smoked Paprika 2-3 times on top of lemon. Cook directly on the grill for 10 minutes and cover. Continue cooking for 2-3 more minutes if you prefer your fish to be less moist. Voila!
Recipe #2 Steamed Whole Blue Fish On The Grill — Serves 4-6
Create a very hot fire in your grill in preparation for steaming. Next open a gutted 3 ½ - 4 pound blue fish and rinse all over. Slather one tablespoon of light mayo on the interior of fish. Sprinkle sea salt and black pepper and cayenne over mayo. Chop two tablespoons each plum tomatoes, chopped red onions and diced parsley. Place all vegetables plus thyme, tarragon and marjoram branches inside the fish. Add ½ cup dry white wine over fish. Enclose completely with heavy duty aluminum foil so that aluminum is billowy and larger than the fish itself, replace the top of the grill and steam for 15 minutes.
Leaving packet with fish closed, remove from the grill and let stand for 4-5 minutes. Open the packet and spoon the vegetables out of the fish cavity. Move the fish to a cutting board and begin to remove any bones on each side of the filets. Use small needle pointed pliers to make this process easier. Remove the steamed flesh from the fish and place it next to the vegetables or on top of them. Cut fresh lemon slices and place on top of fish. Reserve any juices and wine for later.
Cardamom brown rice is nice on the side. Enjoy!
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