I’m not much of a fisher woman. However, I definitely see the value in catching your own food from the water, and I love love love to eat the harvest. I just don’t seem to have the patience for fishing though.
I’m more of a gatherer than a hunter I’d have to say. But every once in awhile I try my hand at fishing (with some persuading from my darlin!) and this most recent visit to the beach was the most fruitful attempt yet!
From an afternoon of fishing we came back with a cooler full of shrimp, three crabs, a sheep’s head fish, and slightly burnt shoulders! Now it may not seem like much but we were very happy with our prize and cooked it all up for dinner that very night! Contrary to the image you might be creating in your head of us out there fishing with our poles and bait…the cast net was the star of the day pulling in everything we caught that was worth keeping, and plenty more.
I’m a fan of the cast net! It doesn’t require the same amount of patience as sitting with a rod and reel, and tends to be more active since you’re using your whole body to throw the net into the water.
(If you look closely there are shrimp in that net, I promise!)
Just to quickly explain a cast net is a circular net that is weighted around the edges so that when you throw it into water it quickly sinks trapping your catch. As you pull in the net the bottom cinches together keeping the catch from swimming away.
We decided to prepare our fresh catch of the day very simply. We boiled the shrimp and crab and grilled the Sheep’s Head fish. So we could really savor each of the flavors. The crab’s were disappointing since we barely got a 1/4 cup of meat from the three crabs and they required the most work. No wonder restaurants charge so much for their crab cakes! But the meat sure was tasty drizzled with butter.
We boiled the crab until it turned red. Their colors were so brilliant before and after they were cooked. Its amazing how much they change.
Then came the hard part, trying to get the meat out of the shell. We used a hammer to gently crack the shells, and then fingers and small knives to extract the meat. The best meat came from the claws and then along the top side of the shell. When breaking into the body from the underside the first meat you encounter is not worth keeping, it has a tougher texture and awful taste ( we found out the hard way). Leave that and go further into the shell to find the soft and moist meat below.
We boiled the shrimp with their heads on because their meat was very clean with no dark spots, which indicate dirty water, and to save time. Bring the water to a boil, dump in shrimp and watch closely. They are done when their flesh has turned pink and their tails curl inwards, remove from water. We peeled the shrimp as we ate and dipped them in melted butter or cocktail sauce.
My darlin’ caught the Sheep’s Head fish with the cast net right off an old jetty where it had been eating barnacles, they have human like teeth that they use to scrape off their food. To scale the fish using the edge of a spoon scrape from the tail toward the head removing the scales from the skin all the way up to the gills.
To gut the fish insert a sharp short blade knife into the belly of the fish and slice toward the head. Pull the sides of the incission apart and scrape out the guts with your fingers.
We cooked the fish on a piece of tinfoil on a hot grill. Since it was so small we decided not to filet the fish.
But after all our hard work it was one of the most satisfying meals of seafood I’ve ever had!