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Monday Water cooler 8/7/06

By jdclyde ·
First of all, MAE! GO HOME! Tig already gave you your perscription, now go home and take it!

Golf, what do you do when your 14 year old son is starting to out drive you and your ADULT friend? You ground them of course! That and stop letting them use your Taylor driver!

But all is well, because I beat him 103 to 112. (hey, I never SAID I was GOOD at golf, just that I like to get outside and play it! ) Yeah, my second shot has been my saving grace, but now Thing One is starting to ask to use my Hogan Hybrid driver, so is starting to catch on that avenue as well! Good thing I can pitch much better than the rest of the group! A good pitch makes up for my so-so putting! B-)

Thing one catching up isn't a matter of me getting worse, it is a matter of him getting better. How many of you are feeling the wolves nipping at your heals?

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Took my boss's family fishing

by neilb@uk In reply to Monday Water cooler 8/7/0 ...

Boss, wife and three kids, girl 12, boys 10 and 5 all fishing for mackerel out in my boat.

For foreigners, mackerel are related to the tuna, around 1lb weight, taste extremely good and are usually caught on traces of four feathered hooks. It's perfect fun for kids because they arrive in shoals without warning at which point everybody catches some and there's fish all over the boat.

We had a lean spell for a couple of hours early on, caugh a half dozen or so, and then the tide started to come in and brought the mackerel in force. My boss had brought a laundry basket down which he wanted filled! We didn't quite make it but ended up laying out 146 on his lawn even though we threw around thirty more little ones back.

All of the kids got a "full-house", four in one cast, at least once which generally causes chaos trying to get them off the hook without catching any people.

My boss and I spent Saturday night cleaning and filleting fish in almost total darkness - took over two hours while the kids were showered clean. Had a mackerel supper with floured fillets cooked crisp in olive oil with garlic and lemon (my recipe) washed down with cold beer at around 11:30pm.

Final tally, 10lb of choice fillets and another 25lb of cleaned fish in the freezer and three happy children.

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Holy Mackerel!

by jdclyde In reply to Took my boss's family fis ...

( stepdads stepdad always says that, so I figured it would fit! )

Sounds like a grand time! We wanted to get out for some fishing, but had to stick around to see Foghat come to town. Lots of ribs too, as it was the "pig gig"!

When the fish are hitting, the kids love it. The in-betweek strikes can be challenging with that five year old! My bud has a four year old we take with us and keeping him quiet and amused isn't always the easiest thing in the world!

Garlic and lemon. Squeeze the lemons for juice or throw the whole lemon in? Nice cast iron pan? Been looking to learn how to cook fish, as we have the beef and chicken thing down pretty nicely!

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This works for me

by OnTheRopes In reply to [b]Holy Mackerel! [/b]

I season two fillets to tastes, put a tomato slice between them and wrap them in aluminum foil. Then it?s into the oven at 350F to 400F or on the grill until they flake. The tomato slice seems to keep them from drying out and is discarded.

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Discarded tomato

by jdclyde In reply to This works for me

Never heard of that. While I don't eat whole tomatos, just something about it. I am FINE cooking with tomato SAUCE and PASTE, but just can't do the chunks. I have tried so many times over the years too! Just can't do it.

Anyone else use a tomato like that to cook? Are there other tips people use to keep the fishies from drying out?

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by gadgetgirl In reply to Discarded tomato

you only do this so I sit here and make myself hungry, don't you??


Ways to stop fish drying out, volume 1....

As NB said, parcel them up in foil, and cook slowly in the oven (never, ever overcook fish...yeuchh...but then again, never undercook it either!!!)

Variations: works with most "steak cuts" of fish... light brushing of olive oil on the foil, place the steak on top, spread approx 1 teaspoon of sesame oil on top of steak. Fold foil so there is about 1/2" of space from the top of the steak to the foil. Sorta steam-cooks.

Same again, using real butter (NOT MARGARINE)

On white fish: believe it or not, mayonnaise

In case of emergencies: grill the fish, but undercook. At the last minute, brush on melted butter, and zap in microwave for 30 seconds. Can also be used to rescue dried out fish.....

If you're going for the "sandwich" idea, alternate slices of lemon and lime are great, but remember to lightly oil the fish first, before putting on the citrus fruits (stops them pulling the fish apart on removal)

If you prefer the fish more "mushy" or "wet" (careful, jd! careful!!!) then the mayonnaise trick works here too. Just don't overdo the mayo, you'll end up wearing it when you're dishing out.....!

Last but not least, a very, very old recipe from the family, called Coddled Cod - works with any white fish (mostly. Haven't come across one it hasn't worked with yet, and if you hadn't gathered I'm a hardened fish-a-holic)

Medium sized roasting pan, fill with 1/2" boiling water, and good size knob of butter. Hand tear four mint leaves, put into the water, and put pan into oven, 200C. Clean fish. Pat dry, then lightly coat with either sesame or olive oil by brush, both sides. Put cod onto fish slice, and lower into pan in oven. Turn heat up to 220C, and leave to "coddle" (poach) for around 15 minutes.

The fun part is trying to catch the cod, as it (effectively) swims around the pan, without breaking the fillet!


Grief, I'm STARVING now. I'll get you, jd, I'll get you.....


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Fish cooking 101

by neilb@uk In reply to [b]Holy Mackerel! [/b]

My mother taught me the secret and that is to just cook "to the point" when the middle of the fish is just nearly but not quite done. Tuna, salmon (and mackerel) and other oily fish you cook less than that so the middle is underdone. Especially tuna where the inside is usually scarcely warm.

Basic recipe for fried fish:

If you've got fillets - best for fussy kids AND beginner cooks - cook with skin on. Dry the fish thoroughly and dip the skin side only in plain flour and pat off the excess. This will give crisp skin. A pinch of salt and some pepper on the flesh and lay skin side down into a medium to hot skillet with a little oil in it. (Lay the fish away from you so you don't get splashed!) Really fresh fish will "arc" up so press it down for a few seconds to get the skin in contact with the pan. Until you've got the timing worked out, watch the fish cook, you'll see a colour change as the flesh cooks. On thin fillets watch the colour change until there's a finger-wide patch down the middle uncooked, flip over, a few seconds and out onto the plate as the cooking will continue. With thick fillets when the colour change gets around half-way up, flip over and leave for half the time it's just taken. We're talking a few or very few minutes here so concentrate!

Garlic and lemon is nice for oily fish although it works with most fish. Use olive oil. The garlic should be chopped or sliced. Because garlic burns easily you add it just before you turn the fish over so that you turn it over onto the garlic. The lemon juice is added just before you take the fish out so you get a big sizzle and some of the sugar in the lemon juice caramelises. Pur the whole lot out and dip bread in the fishy, lemony oil. If you've got some, add a pat of butter halfway through to really brown the skin.

Anything goes - e.g. for Cajun fish just sprinkle on some Cajun seasoning and have the pan good and hot so it gets a bit black. Cook as above.

Any sauces, herby fresh tomato sauce is good, just make the sauce separately and add it to the pan just before you'd flip the fish over and then flip into the sauce, fast cook for a minute and out. Parsley, chives, dill, fennel...

For grilling (broiling) the same applies, just watch until you've got the timing right.

Whole fish you deal with once you've got the hang of how long a thick fillet takes.

An easy way, make an aluminium foil parcel of some seasoned (salt and pepper) fish fillets or a whole fish with whatever takes your fancy. Leave a little room for expansion but fold the edges well to seal. Cook in an oven at 160C, 320F, for 20 minutes - foolproof. Makes its own sauce and so easy that the kids can do it.

E.g., a couple of slices of lemon, a handful of chopped coriander leaves (cilantro), a heaped tablespoon of finely chopped shallot, some grated root ginger and a pat of butter. Thai fish (sort of).

A slug of wine is good, tomatoes, whatever you like! Good way to cook thinly sliced or julienne veggies, too, but don't forget the seasoning. Carrot julienne (matchsticks) with a few (very few!) cumin seeds and a pat of butter. Mmmm.

Sometimes, you get so much liquid that you may have to empty the sauce out and whoosh it in a pan to concentrate it before pouring back over the fish or veggies.

Enough! I'm getting hungry! Experiment and have the ketchup handy!


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Classic rule of fish cookery

by neilb@uk In reply to [b]Holy Mackerel! [/b]

Learn what makes a "fresh" fish. Then you'll never go wrong even if you eat it raw.

If is smells fishy then don't buy it!
The eyes should be clear and bright. They shouldn't be sunken or dull.
Skin should be shiny and bright with no discoloration or damage.
Gills should be bright red underneath. Lift them up, don't be shy!
Flesh should be firm and plump. Soft flesh that indents easily is a sign that the fish isn't fresh.
If the fish has large scales they should be firmly attached.

Fish fillets should be firm, smell fresh and have bright skin.

Above all, find a good fish supplier and ask him what's good on the day. assuming you have fishmongers, that is.


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by gadgetgirl In reply to Classic rule of fish cook ...

don't go looking for its' fingers.....

they don't have any........


Sorry, couldn't resist!


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Time to start web crawling

by jdclyde In reply to Classic rule of fish cook ...

to find a fish shop! We had one in town, but it went under about five years ago. Not sure what else is in the area, but as we are surrounded by the largest fresh water supply in the world, I am sure there is a place not too far way!

And grilled it what I have in mind more than fried. Fried is for winter! B-)

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Go with the parcels

by neilb@uk In reply to Time to start web crawlin ...

Very good for summer.

Barbecue! Oil the fish all over, pinch of salt and pepper into the flesh and onto the barbie, skin down for fillets. Again, watch the change from translucent as it travels up the fish. Flip over, done (watch out that they don't stick). Salmon fillets are good to practice on as the colour change to light pink as it cooks is so easy to see. Into a toasted bun with mayo and lattuce. MUCH better for you than all that animal fat!

I'm having - as you might have guessed - mackerel for supper. I'm making Thai fishcakes with mashed potato, cooked fish, chopped chives, chili, garlic, ginger and chopped coriander. Make patties, dip in egg and breadcrumb and fry for a few minutes.

Light and zingy - perfect summer food.

Another two hours and I'll be eating them!

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