What’s Cooking – Fish Gonzo

Getting home from the market on a Saturday is always a special state of mind. The Market, being Borough Market is my spiritual home on Saturdays while I work our stall, but it also means getting the weekly groceries. Sometimes I have exact plans, precisely set up for what to get for the home. This particular day wasn’t such a day..I found this fish. A beautiful Seabass, that was caught a day ago on the Sussex coast. I know the fisherman, he is a regular vendor on Saturdays. I kind of find comfort meeting the person who actually killed my dinner-to-be. Nowadays it is a rare occasion, so you should really value the moment. It was closing time and I decided that I want nothing more from the world that evening than a roast Seabass and a few glasses of Riesling.
I like to bring home dead animals from the market. This might sound weird for the first time, but have a think. Most of the meat we eat comes already processed, neatly wrapped on polystirene trays. Where is the fun in that? Where would the hunter-gatherer burried under several layers of civilisation and consumerism find any satisfaction? A whole chicken, that`s cool. Or a duck. Or a hare. In this case, a fish.Fish is fun in many levels. I asked the vendor to gut and descale it for me. Normally I would do this myself, it is part of the game. But currently I live in a tiny flat where some genius laid fitted carpet in the kitchen. Once I descaled a 3 KG salmon with a cheese grater – it was an awful lot of fun, except that I kept finding scales 3 weeks after the action. At that time I lived in a flatshare with hardcore vegans. That fish gave me a month of entertainment.This is one of those evenings, when I need two bottles of wine for dinner. One shall be drank whilst cooking, the other to be shared with my partner. Cooking usually relaxes me and the wine certainly helps too.

It is a perfect torpedo, this fish, a perfect little killer. It’s functionality amazes me, even in its death it is far more perfect than a featherless bird carcass would ever be. I like to touch the teeth, open the mouth, open the gills. I wan’t to get to know it before I start working with it.I start descaling, as obviously there are spots missed and in cooking I am a damned perfectionist. I cannot recall any other area in my life where I would be so meticulous… Perhaps I compensate with cooking food. In the meantime I pop the Riesling open. After finishing the de-scaling, and spread the little scales evenly on the wall and the kitchen floor, I start with the fins and I am reminded that I should buy myself a proper knife. After a few cuts the fish is just a perfect cigar shape, with nothing to stick out. I give it a good wash, and realise, that the fisherman was kind enough to leave me with two massive bags of fish eggs and half of the liver, in the seabass` belly. But first I stuff the fish with sage leaves, and rub it with salt from all sides. I put the fish into the oven on 160C. It should take no more than 25 mins.

While the seabass enjoys the dry sauna, I chop the egg-baskets, and throw them in a frying pan. I never did this before, but I like to look like someone who knows what he`s doing. The frying pan is not a good idea, so I add some soy sauce and Pak Choy leaves. It shall be a crunchy side dish with extremely fishy sauce. It actually works out quite nice, and I manage to hide the fact that it was all accidental.In the meantime the fish is ready, its skin shrinked, and it`s meet is absolutely flaky. Fantastic texture, and comes off the bone completely efortlessy. It is the second bottle of riesling that completes the dinner, with fresh acids, and loads of citrus aromas. Improvised dinner served at around eleven at night but we don’t mind. For a few minutes I managed to believe that I am in control, I mastered a fish, and the result is rather tasty. The whole fish disappeared and the flute bottles are empty. Call it a day.

One Response to “What’s Cooking – Fish Gonzo”
  1. Gergely I want you to teach me how to master a fish.

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