COOKING UP A STORM
Some of you will be able to relate to my struggle to keep my New Year's resolutions only one month into the year. Drinking less was one resolution I announced at the stroke of midnight on the 31st. But this was too hard to stick to given the stinking hot conditions we've had of late! The other resolution was to look after my body better, I have already scheduled thorough weekly workouts for arms and shoulders by practicing my cast and retrieve technique!
Eating healthily is going to be easy this year as I plan to live off plenty of fresh fish. Unfortunately I'm easily enticed by the taste of beer batter. There is bound to be a few fellow anglers out there who are in the same boat, so I have done my research and spoken to my darling mother who is super healthy and have compiled a few facts on the healthier ways to cook fish.
So you've caught a huge fish. Firstly, keep the fish cool in an esky on ice and don't forget to bleed all pelagic species like tuna, mackerel, tailor and dart to name a few. Oxygen makes the flesh start to decompose and blood is high in oxygen as it transports oxygen about the body. So any blood left in the fish fillets will speed up this process. When you get home, rinse the fish in cold water and dry. Wrap in foil, or cling wrap or place on paper towel in well sealed container and store in the fridge - with the plan to use within 1-2 days.
The three most important things you need to remember when it comes to cooking fish:
1. DDon't overcook - the texture will become coarse, dry out and the flavour will be destroyed.
2. DDon't over flavour - fish have very delicate flavours, so be light-handed with salt and spices.
3. KKeep moist - preserve the natural juices when cooking by using a moist cooking method.
The top four cooking methods:
Baking in Foil - an excellent way to retain flavour and moisture (especially if you have a larger fillet or whole fish). Add a liquid such as fish stock, white wine or lemon juice (approx ¼ of the fish weight i.e. 200g of fish needs 50ml of liquid) with a little butter, salt, pepper and seasonings of your choice before sealing the fish in foil. Bake in a moderate oven 180-200C for a mouth-watering result.
Barbecue - quick and easy, but can often dry out the fish. So protect it with marinades, bastes, lemon juice or a little butter brushed on frequently during cooking. Or wrap it in foil with these liquids and seasonings. Do not attempt to move the fillets for at least a few minutes; this will only break up the fillet. Once the fish has formed a crust on the bottom and the colour of the fillets has started to change on the sides you can turn it over. This is my favourite option for summer social do's.
Grilling - a fast way to cook fish and possibly the healthiest. Using either fillets or whole fish this method allows the fish to develop its own rich flavour under the intense heat. Fish should be moistened during the grilling to prevent it drying out. Or marinate beforehand and use the liquid for basting. Whole fish or thicker fillets seem to fare better under the grill as the fish has time to develop a rich golden brown crispy coating by the time the inside is cooked. If whole fish are to be grilled score the skin and flesh to allow better heat penetration.
Shallow Frying - cooking in a small quantity of fat sufficient to come up to the level of half the thickness of the fish in a wide shallow pan. The best fat for fish is butter or half butter and half olive oil. The oil combined with the butter reduces the risk of overheating the butter. Always put presentation side down first so the flesh stays together well.
To test if your fish fillet is cooked, place a rounded knife into the thickest part of the flesh. If the knife is quite warm, the fish is cooked and if the knife is still cold then cook for a little longer. This prevents the fish being pulled apart to test. The flesh should "flake" readily. Another indication is when the inside flesh turns from translucent to white.
A great recipe passed on to me by a local angler-come-chef is the simple dish - Fish Fillets with Parmesan, Chilli and Herb Crust. The best fillets of fish to use include trevally, tailor and reef species: pearl perch or snapper. It has very little fat and can be grilled, barbequed or shallow fried. Try it out before summer is over, oh and it goes very well with an ice cold beer - a low carb one of course!
Fish Fillets with Parmesan, Chilli and Herb Crust.
1. Lightly dust 4 x skinless white fillets of fish with flour, salt and pepper.
2. Dip into a beaten egg whisked with 1 tbs of milk.
3. Coat with the mixture of ½ cup of dry breadcrumbs, 1 tbs finely chopped fresh chilli, 2 tbs of dill and parsley, 4 tbs parmesan cheese and 4tbs lightly crushed almond flakes. Press on one side of the fillet firmly.
4. Heat 1 tbs of oil and 30g butter in a bbq, grill pan or frying pan.
5. Add the fish by placing the herb crust side down first and cook for 2-4mins until golden and the flip over. (Cook on medium heat if shallow frying).
6. Top with guacamole, tomato salsa or tartare sauce and serve with a crisp green salad.
7. Bon Appetite!
LOCAL FISHING REPORT
NOOSA: Whiting along north shore. Mangrove jacks at the Sheraton bridge, Munna Point Bridge, the entrance to Noosa Waters and along the Noosaville stretch on softies and live bait. Quality whiting are being caught with poppers along the Noosaville stretch. Trevally and bream around the Sheraton Bridge. Crabs in the lower reaches of Weyba Creek.
MAROOCHYDORE: Grunter bream and keeper whiting around the bli bli islands. Mangrove jack in the creeks and around bridge pylons. Whiting throughout the middle and upper reaches of the river. Trevally at the top of the tide in the morning in both canal systems. Estuary cod and bream in the southern channel.
KAWANA: A 4.3kg coral trout and a few sweetlip from the Gneerings. Mangrove jacks around the bridges and walls in the evenings. Whiting in the sand basin and up stream of McKenzies Bridge. Trevally in the late afternoons around the Kawana Boat Ramp, on the edge of the sand basin and along the eastern rock wall.
CALOUNDRA: Grunter bream off the boardwalk. Greenback tailor off Wurtulla Beach over night. Quality mangrove jacks in creeks, bridges and rocky walls. Big eyed trevally in Currimundi Creek. Tarpon to 52cm on surface lures in the lake behind the gold corse.
Young Travis Hamilton enjoyed a morning out on the Maroochy River chasing whiting with his dad Darrin and was lucky enough to catch a few nice snodgers up to 36cm.
Mangrove jack have been prolific over the past few months in Sunshine Coast estuaries, with Jeff Vere fine looking specimen taking a live poddy mullet up Petrie Creek overnight.
Darrin fished last Friday on the banks between Chambers Island and Bli Bli on the flood tide for another tray of quality whiting, with the biggest weighing in at 540g.
Ollie B. braved the ruff weather this week venturing out to the Gneerings for a morning fish, which payed off with this quality 4.3kg coral trout.