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Fish Will Never Be the Same

The coming Saturday we are hosting a midsummer night party, and we will of course serve fish. In the last couple of days I did some intensive fishing, like a man on a mission. Yesterday I caught 6 big pollock. I will make Seilaks: salted, slightly dried pollock flavored with wood vinegar. We also have four salmon fillets hanging outside drying. I will cold smoke them tomorrow with juniper wood.

Two nights ago, Kristin’s principal at school called and told her that “the water is boiling” in the bay in front of her house. In 10 minutes I arrived there by boat to catch the mackerel that made the water boil. I only caught two, plus two herring. Mackerels are like little tunas: they’re very exciting to catch on a hook because they fight so hard. Today I hot smoked them on our deck. The kids and I played with different ways to flavor the smoke, like putting cumin and fennel seeds in the wood chips that made smoke. We sat on our deck and wolfed them down with relish and reluctantly saved some for our party.

At the moment, we have around 100 lbs of fish of 6 species in varying different state of preparation in and around our house. Over the last year, I estimate that I gutted and filleted on average a fish every other day. If I accomplished nothing else this year, at least I know how gut and filet a big fish in a few minutes.

This is the third reflection on our year here: It’s been a privilege to have learned to catch and prepare great fish. And eat them. Fish is so abundant, so close to us, and catching them so hassle-free. I don’t need to think about a license or quota. I walk out on a dock or jump in a boat and in minutes, there could be fish on the hooks — just in time for dinner.

I wonder how supermarket fish will taste once we return to the US. I fear fish will never be the same.

  1. Joe #

    ” In the last couple of days I did some intensive fishing…” intensive? …. sounds very stressful, Winston. Not even slightly! I wish we all could have such immediately rewarding “missions”. A plateful of smoked fish is something worth working for! And just think how much good you’ve done for your childrens’ developing brains with all those Omega-3’s. Keep up the good work…You are fulfilling the fish’s mission as well–they were clearly put here on earth to be appreciated for their wonderful flavor.

    June 21, 2012
    • Let me point out, dear sir, that fishing is serious business. You’ll see when you come here when we put you to work. After I caught the 6 big pollock, I stood in the kitchen until 2 am cleaning, deboning, filleting, salting and packing the fish. Followed by a thorough scrubbing of myself.

      June 27, 2012
  2. Rosa #

    I don’t think you will be able to eat fish in the US for a while… You will have to become a dedicated meat eater.

    June 22, 2012
    • That suits me. I have a major hankering for barbecued hanger steak.

      June 27, 2012
  3. RichardP #

    Winston, you are now spoiled on fish … I just returned from a Yukon trip where we caught and ate our fish all within an hour like you are. Supermarket fish is never so fresh and tasty. The best you can do is catch, clean and vacuum seal as fast as possible. Fish stored this way can taste reasonably fresh after even months in a freezer. Enjoy your fill of fresh fish and send me some of what you smoked! 🙂

    June 25, 2012
    • Or, we save fish eating for when we come back here every summer.

      June 27, 2012
  4. Gary Powell #

    I have to warn you it won’t. After the wonderful fish you served us on our visit I went on a mission to find really fresh whole fish in London fishmongers – nothing came close and the gleaming fillet knife I bought in anticipation has remained woefully unused. So empty all your clothes out of your luggage, and fly back to the US with suitcases packed full of arctic sea life to get your through until your next visit.

    June 25, 2012
    • This makes me very sad indeed. I guess we’ll have to buy a fishing boat in Boston.

      June 27, 2012

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