Saturday, September 5, 2009

Day 170 - How to Fillet a Round Fish

Wow, a whole week went by with no entry! I have to confess, sometimes after a big cookathon (or two!), I need a little time to recover, and that was definitely the case this week. Meanwhile, I should mention that I did make Caramelized Figs twice this week and might even make them again before the week is done. (So good and so in season!)

Tonight was supposed to be a Marcy special, but she was under the weather and canceled. I went ahead and made everything, though. I mean, I had a five-pound grouper in the fridge, and by god, I was going to fillet that thing.

I decided to shop in Chinatown for this meal, instead of Fairway or Whole Foods (my regular haunts). I thought it would be nice to try that Green Papaya Slaw again, finishing it right this time with the herbs and peanuts. And while I was down there fetching the green papaya, I could pick up a whole fish, take the fillet lesson, roast the fillets and plop them on top of the slaw.

Of course, there's so much at one's fingertips in Chinatown, and I couldn't leave without some extra treats. I bought a pound of 芥蘭, aka Kai-Lan, aka Chinese Broccoli, and also a pound of lychees, one of my summer fruit obsessions (along with cherries and watermelon).

I had no idea what I was going to do with the grouper or greens, but I'd figure something out.

How to Fillet a Round Fish (p. 121)

I thought you should see the fish before I had my way with it. This is a 5 pound grouper, which was cleaned (gutted and scaled) by the fishmonger. You may remember my unfortunate experience with grouper in April. When I was scoping out the fish at the market, I spotted the grouper and I thought this would be a good opportunity to make my peace with this fish. I must conquer the grouper!

The lesson went quite well, I think. There was a lot of back and forth between the text, the pictures, and the fish. Luckily, grouper is pretty solid, so even with some awkward slicing, it didn't suffer too badly. Once I understood the concept of slicing the fish from the bone, it went pretty easily and quickly.

Here I am halfway through the process, with one side sliced off. I missed that belly section the first time around, as you can see, but I caught it on the other side.

I'm sure I could have gotten some more meat from the fish, but in the end, I ended up with six very respectable fillets.

Filleting my own fish, like many of the exercises in this book, was quite empowering! And economical. Even though I may have paid for parts I didn't use (head, tail, etc.), it's still so much less expensive than buying fillets. And soon, I'll be needing those heads, etc., once I start doing the fish soups and bouillabaisse!

Jeff: A
Martha: A

Note: I prepared the grouper and Chinese broccoli with the marinade from this recipe, and it was delicious! It tied in perfectly with the green papaya slaw, which tasted even better with the proper finishings. And David P. came over at the last minute to eat it with me! What a great meal! With lots of leftovers!

Until we eat again....

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