Snack Time – Part 4: Flesh Off the Bones

February 20, 2010 at 3:59 pm 4 comments


“It was so fresh, the muscles were still twitching as I filleted it.” – That’s how fresh my dad (a chef) could get fish in Micronesia. (To all you “Eating animals is inhumane”-people, don’t freak out – no, my dad did not fillet a fish while it was still alive. It was just so recently killed that its muscles hadn’t really caught on to the fact that it was dead yet.)

When my dad worked at the Manta Ray Bay Hotel in Yap, fresh fish was plentiful. Guests were always going out on fishing trips and bringing back their catch for my dad to cook up for them.

Man with Yellowfin Tuna (in Hawaii)

Fishing on the island was done well and responsibly. Fresh fish was almost always available, and on the few occasions when it wasn’t, my dad took the fish dishes off the menu. The frozen version (the only other option if fresh cannot be found) of this delectable animal just does not compare. Frozen fish turns an unnatural colour, it loses its texture, and it starts to smell. Good fish should not smell fishy. Good fish should smell like the sea, like ocean air.

I personally like meat a lot more than fish, but I do have a special place in my belly for raw fish. Sashimi, sushi, all of it!

Tuna sashimi pictured with wasabi

In fact, raw fish accounts for some of my most memorable food experiences, and I’ve never appreciated it as much as I do now, living where fresh, never-frozen fish is hard to find.

One memory in particular stands out: I remember being amongst a group of people who were given the post-fillet corpses of some gorgeous yellowfin tuna (a.k.a Ahi). My dad had expertly removed their supple sides and inedible entrails like a surgeon with a scalpel. He’d sent the fillets up to the kitchen to be chilled (not frozen!) and the guts were saved for the next day’s chum.

Fresh yellowfin tuna loins

Vacuum-packed tuna loin

We’d been left with the bodies of the fish, open on each side, like an incomplete autopsy. Our task was to scrape the remaining flesh off the bones so that the carcasses could be used for making fish stock in the kitchen and the heads given to staff for the making of fish head soup.

Somebody grabbed the necessary condiments (soy sauce, wasabi, ging gong) and we all started scraping. Little pieces of the tuna, dipped in soy and smeared with a bit of wasabi, or just plain with a bit of ging gong juice – wow was that good. Eventually, our fingers got all sticky, and we had bits of fish caked under our fingernails, but that didn’t stop us. We kept going until it was all gone.

Photo Sources:

Man with fish: http://www.fishingkites.co.nz/articles/hawaii-fishing/hawaii-yellowfin-tuna.jpg

Sashimi: http://lh6.ggpht.com/_XhFAm_YiL0Y/SskUrBrUd0I/AAAAAAAACzM/LOCKcG5Zvj4/s800/Sashimi%20Tuna_005.JPG

Tuna loins: http://img.alibaba.com/photo/11239599/Fresh_Yellowfin_Tuna_Loins.jpg

Vacuum-packed tuna: http://www.freshfromtheboat.com/market/images/Tuna%20loin.jpg

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Entry filed under: The Tropical Chronicles. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Snack Time – Part 3: Prawn Farts and Mango Nectar Snack Time – Part 5: Salt and Mango

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. GooTAR  |  February 20, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    Lovely. I liked it. Plz do visit me and leave your comment on GooTAR Blog

    Reply
    • 2. sarahmunn  |  February 21, 2010 at 6:08 pm

      Thank you! I’m glad you liked it. Keep checking back for new posts. I’m taking a look at your blog right now! =)

      Reply
  • 3. Mare Cromwell  |  February 21, 2010 at 11:13 am

    Hi Sarah,
    Gosh, your blog entry here makes me hungry! I love sushi… ;~)

    What an adventurous childhood you had… wow..
    look forward to more postings..
    mare

    Reply
    • 4. sarahmunn  |  February 21, 2010 at 6:05 pm

      Hi Mare,
      Thanks for the comment! I’m glad my blog appeals to you. I’ll be writing about quite a bit of food, as my parents are chefs, and I love trying all kinds of food!
      I’m definitely happy to have had these experiences, as they’ve taught me a lot about culture, and have given me a really open mind. Plus, they give me great material for my writing! Keep checking the Tropical Chronicles category, as that’s where all my tales of island life will be found. I’ve got lots of ideas, and I’m writing as quickly as I can to keep the blog fresh.
      I see you are affiliated with a publishing company; that’s interesting. Do you write as well?

      Reply

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