Friday, April 27, 2007

Big Fish

I got this pic in mail forwarded by my Dad.

This BIG FISH was caught in Con go River (Africa). Yumm.... Big fish, small fish! I just love fish. This picture is interesting (including the man!) so I decided to post it here. Where's the 'aam ka khatta', coconut, dried red chillies? I wanna cook this one! I meant the fish !!!

While on the topic of fish, let me discuss the A to Z of a fish, right from buying to cooking.

How to Buy? Though I never go to a fish market (no time! must've accompanied Mom on rare occasions, tho'), I've been handed over those two important points while buying fish :

* Flip open the gill. The redder it is, the fresher is the fish.
* Lightly press the fish with your finger. The body should be firm. The more it presses, the less fresh. But again, beware. It could have just removed from ice which could add to firmness. Comes with practice.

Some fisherwomen can be real nasty. Hence keep your comments to yourselves if you don't like the fish. Just move on to next stall. (Especially in Grant Road market). Else be ready for a splash! Of fish water!!! Which the fisherwoman will bless you with for passing comments for her dear fish.

Also, you should be well versed with the varieties of fish available. Many Mumbaiites aren't. Hence a Bhing can be passed off as Surmai to an illiterate person in fish literature. Also, many North Indians play it safe by buying only pomfrets. They will apply masala and fry it. The real tasty fish gravies and delicacies come from the coastal people.

Even Bengalis love fish and make lovely varieties. But they prefer fresh water fish. To those like us, who are used to the sea fish flavour, will not appreciate fresh water fish that much. We relish the surmais, the ravas, the bhings, the taarlis, the bhangdas, the prawns (still not tasted Big tiger prawns, tho!)

Cleaning the Fish : Here comes the interesting part. The cleaning. Of course, you can have the fish cleaned and cut at the fish market itself. Especially the big fish. But the other ones are your babies waiting to be cleaned and cut in a specific manner. At no extra cost.

I learnt this art at quite a young age. We have a tool which is called the Adala (this is what we call it in our gaoan/ village). It is actually a coconut scraper-cum-fish and meat cutter and very famous in Southern India. It is a flat small stool to which is attached a tool. The front portion is used to scrape a coconut whereas the connecting blade is used to clean and cut fish meat.

Method :

* You sit on the stool and get into the act. Keep fish in a vessel filled with water. Remove them one by one and clean 'em
* First you scrape out the scales moving the fish horizontally over the blade
* Then you have to cut out the tail and fins with the blade.
* Then cut off the head and put a little cut on the abdomen.
* Then put your finger in the fish's belly and remove the stuff inside till its clean (don't say yuck!)
* Cut the fish in portions as required and keep in another vessel.

But you gotta be little tough for this else stick to eating fishes cut from market itself !

Washing the Fish : This is very important coz improper washing can lead to odours. You gotta sprinkle sufficient salt over the pieces and mix 'em till they bathe in salt. Then you have to pour water over the pieces and rinse each and every piece carefully in the water with your hand. Remove each piece again in another bowl of water and repeat process once again till fully clean.

After that? Simple. You make nice dishes of 'em and eat 'em - How? Saute, cook, fry, dry..... fish will taste good any which ways! Smack! Don't expect me to write recipes here!

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