By my estimation, I've filleted about 321,650 pounds of fish during the past 30 years. This is no exaggeration, even though I just picked a random number. So when I wrote Off the Hook, Rudow's Recipes for Cooking Your Catch($20; 800/638-7641, www.cmptp.com), I included a section on myfish-cutting methodology. The biggest mistake I see at the dockside cleaning stations? Poor skinning techniques that result in lost meat and ripped, ragged fillets. Looking for the perfect hunk of fish for dinner? Then do your skinning like this:
DO Leave the scales on the fish. They'll help hold the fillet together as you do the cutting. Besides, skinning the fish will get rid of the scales anyway.
DON'T Cut the fillet off of the fish-controlling a delicate fillet with the skin side (read: slimy) down is nearly impossible.
DO Leave the fillet attached to the fish at the tail end. Then grasp the fillet near the front of the fish, flip it back toward the tail so it lies meat side up, and pull it tight against the body of the fish.
DON'T Rip the meat and skin apart; instead, cut straight down into the meat of the fillet right next to the tail, until you reach the skin. Then turn the knife 90 degrees, so the blade faces away from the body of the fish, and slide it along the inside of the skin.
Fillet Packing Tip: Zipper lock baggies do a good job of keeping your fillets fresh, but they'll work even better if you insert a drinking straw into the bag, zip the baggie closed up against it, suck out all of the air, and slide the straw out as you finish sealing it.
Added bonus: It tastes great, too!
Sharkbite by Kevin Falvey
The next time you kill ("harvest," for the PC among you) a shark, there could be more at stake than steaks.
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), as part of age and growth studies by its Apex Predators Program, is requesting backbone samples from sharks being kept by anglers. "Backbones," says Dr. Lisa J. Natanson, research fisheries biologist with NMFS, "allow us to determine the age of the shark by counting the band pairs within. Like aging a tree."
The best sample is a one-to-two-foot section taken from directly above the gills. Pack it in ice and call NMFS, which will arrange pickup. In addition to the backbone, the shark docs require the tag number, if any, and the following data: date caught, species, sex (male sharks have claspers, long ones, just like us), location (lat/long) caught, curved fork length, weight (whole or dressed), and method of capture. The shark doesn't have to have been tagged, nor do you need to be a tagger, to participate. The data will help determine how we can help one of our great gamefish populations thrive. Although most sharks killed for food are makos, backbones from other sharks, particularly threshers, are especially helpful.
Contact the Predators Program at 401/782-3320 http://na.nefsc.noaa.gov/sharks. -K Next page of fishy news...