Theory: If you are going to eat, you should grow, catch or hunt your own food.
Practice: If only! The Slow Chef and I aspire to this theory, having been inspired by The Dirty Life recently, and Living The Good Life in the past but the reality is that we are not very good at it…until yesterday!
The Slow Chef headed out on the high seas (Laguna Bay) with our friend and neighbour, Ricardo. They were under strict instructions from their nagging wives to catch enough fish for dinner, but these instructions are rarely followed (by the fish, not the men).
The boat was launched at 9am with Ricardo and Nick crossing the bar in perfect conditions: a warm 23 degrees, light breeze, the water a shimmering aqua blue and flat as a dance floor.
In 3 hours, Ricardo and Nick caught 4 huge snapper and 3 sweet lip. The snapper were so big Ricardo suggested Nick needed a larger esky; a bit ambitious considering the current model returns empty more often than not. The suggestion by the Slow Chef to purchase another esky (remember that I handle the finances) made me contemplate the ‘real cost’ of these fish when you consider running a boat, purchasing rods, reels, leures and all the other ‘essential’ paraphernalia that today’s hunter requires. I wonder how Nick would go if I sold it all on EBay and left him a sharpened stick?
Once the boat was pulled out of the water, the fish were cleaned and gutted at the tables conveniently located by the boat ramp (have you ever tried to clean fish scales off your outdoor paving? Impossible!) Sharing the bounty, they filletted the 2 largest fish and kept 2 whole for dinner that night.
While The Slow Chef cleaned the boat, I was instructed to take the whole snapper and fill the cavity with garlic, ginger, lemon and soy sauce. I was amazed that I was about to follow cooking instructions from a guy who 20 years ago (I know, it’s a long time but I’m female and rarely forget something a bloke does wrong) decided to bake muffins and threw away half the mixture because it wouldn’t fit into the 6 hole muffin tin. He made one batch and thought the remaining mixture was an error. Clearly over the years he has earned back my respect and I now happily manhandled the enormous beast (the fish, not Nick) onto a sheet of baking paper layed out on our not-nearly-big-enough baking tray and followed his recipe. I took poetic licence and placed more slices of ginger, garlic and soy sauce over the top of the fish then wrapped the snapper in more baking paper. The fish and tray were then covered in foil ready to cook on the BBQ that evening.
On a freezing night (freezing for Noosa – must have been 13 degrees) we heated the BBQ on our verandah to 200 degrees then placed the overloaded baking tray on a wire rack to avoid burning the underside of the fish. The burners were turned to low and the BBQ temperature dropped to about 160 degrees. After 40 minutes, we peeled back the foil and baking paper: perfection! Served with a simple salad and rice the flesh had a creamy texture so moist and delicate a denture-wearing penioner would have signed with pleasure.
There seemed to be an ingredient missing, perhaps something sweet like mirin to balance the salty soy sauce but we fixed that by drinking a bottle of Moet our friend Michael had given us as a gift when he last stayed. Whole snapper and Moet. What more can a woman ask for?