FISHING FROM THE BOAT Tell me what fish you catch, I’ll tell you how to cook it


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Sailor-fisherman Riccardo Fracchia in this episode, after a short excursus on freediving once given bottom in the roadstead, explains the methods of cooking the main prey that can be caught in a boat

After the great fishing I told you about in the last episode, where we left off talking about trolling and surfing, now, in September, after all summer, the sea has warmed up, and it invites us to dive into the wonderful waters of our islands and peninsula to go swimming and freediving with a rifle and wetsuit-which is among other things my favorite fishing, which I practice year-round from January to December with various wetsuits and custom-made rifles, and with specific equipment depending on the season, location, depth, and prey…but this is not the time, we will talk about that in the future.

Back to us, spearfishing is always to be practiced with the utmost respect for the sea and the few Fish and big fish that remain in the warm waters of the first 5 to 15 meters and those always temperate waters of the thermocline (that band of water in the Mediterranean that lies below 16 to 18 meters and remains at the same temperature all year round, between 16 and 18°c). This is the area that hosts the most important fish, but these require more preparation in order to be approached and then caught.

Spearfishing is the best way to observe, learn about, and understand fish and our sea. We can get ourselves a small dinner or a rich ragout of rockfish, a lucky octopus salad, or, if we are good, we can enjoy a nice baked sea bream or sea bass…all while signaling our presence with a balloon and without straying too far from the anchor of our boat.

It will all depend on us, and on our intuition in throwing iron and giving chain in the right place to venture into the depths or the clearest waters, where we can get a delicious dinner to catch and hunt with the utmost respect and the knowledge that every fish is of the sea and not ours, and that whatever animal we catch, he will have to replace it in the time that nature dictates. Thus, our desire to pluck ingredients from the water will have to be limited by the fairness that is imposed on the fisherman and anyone who dives into the sea, one of the few environments that we have not yet fully contaminated.

So now it is fair to talk about how to prepare to cook the catch in the optimized spaces of our floating kitchen. These tips and recipes will apply whether you caught it by following some advice from the last episode, or by following your instincts in freediving, or if you ran to the fish market to pick up what’s left of a chaotic summer morning.

In case the prey was caught by us, it is important to say that the very first passage just after hoisting the fish on board is to kill it as quickly and painlessly as possible; Afterwards, still on the stern platform or aboard our tender, we will start cleaning it and eviscerate it by making a cut from the hole under the belly to the junction of gills and head.

Depending onthe type of fish and the preparation we have planned for it, we will decide whether to scale it, fillet it, slice it, or leave it as is to cover it with salt or wrap it in foil.

To decide this, it is important to have a thorough knowledge of the characteristics of the fish we are going to cook, so that we can enhance its characteristics, and bring out its flavor without covering up its qualities and peculiarities, which for each of the species that inhabit the sea is different: from the leanest and most delicate to the full-bodied and intense, from white meat, to red meat, to blue fish.

My favorite, if you can call it that, is white fish as it is more delicate, versatile and healthy, as well as my most favorite fish to catch. If I had to rank all the wonderful fish in the Mediterranean, I really wouldn’t know how to start or where to start; just like the boats, which to me are all beautiful (apart from a few rare cases where they are poorly thought out or poorly built).

These are designed for different uses and therefore built with different characteristics and techniques according to need; just as with fish, where each one has its own function in the sea, its own taste and its own specific form, and even here, with the exception of a very few less delicious species, I would say that all fish are good, and it is up to us to make them even tastier by enhancing their flavor or simply respecting their sublime delicacy with a few and right seasonings.

Beginning a short ranking in no particular order of my favorite fish, I will try to suggest a few ideas that I think will help you enjoy your prey or its like…

My favorite fish is the corvina, the reef dodging sister of the shiner, a considerably better known fish. this gorgeous fish is my favorite prey on winter spearfishing trips, when I am accompanied by my warm nine mm wetsuit and my custom-made wooden arbalete… it is my trophy back, it is the first fish that I clean and that ends up under the very sharp and flexible blade of my filleting knife, starting from the tail reaching the head following the entire fish bone in order to thus steal the precious fillet without losing even the smallest fiber of flesh. Immediately afterwards the wonderful meat enters the blast chiller at -32°c to be eaten raw and enjoying all its delicacy 24h later.

This is the fate not only of corvina but also of other delicate and tonic white fish that I catch, such as the fantastic strawberry sea bream, pezzogna, san pietro or snapper. Redfish, ductus and gurnard are also definitely among my favorite fish but, being bottom fish, they are tastier and slightly fatter, so more suitable, in my opinion, to be cooked in guazzetto, all’acqua pazza, Ligurian style or with beer and almonds, or even Catalan style, cold, accompanied by fresh cherry tomatoes, tropea onions and Taggiasco oil.

If we do not have to have the generator set to power an oven, it will not be a problem because, depending on the size of the fish, we can also prepare it in a pan: if it is small we can cook it whole, and if it is larger in fillets or slices.

Large pelagic fish such as tuna, mares, dolphinfish, moroni, and swordfish, on the other hand, I prefer them all’isolana, that is, cooked in a pan with capers, olives, almonds, and cherry tomatoes or au gratin with dried fruits and grains, or even used in tasty sauces ideal for summer pastas, such as tuna, pistachios, and sun-dried tomatoes.

On the other hand, when our fishing is not profitable and the catch is small such as damselfish, serrane, bream, etc., we can arrange a very good fish sauce to be eaten with pasta, rice or couscous.

Preparing it will be simple: just fillet the larger ones and cut the smaller ones into pieces; prepare separately a broth with assorted pieces of fish, tails and heads of those passed under the fillet knife, onion, oil, beer and a few spices that, after 1 hour of cooking, will begin to give off a very intense aroma, which we will use to wet and elongate our sauce of fresh cherry tomatoes, previously filleted fish fillets, parsley and a few crushed almonds; it will be ready in twenty minutes and will be a special reward for a fishing trip that did not go as we wanted, or maybe not so badly, we will think after eating our sauce.

Richard Fracchia

Riccardo Fracchia was born 29 years ago in Como. He has long lived 365 days a year aboard Clovis, a 1983 ketch built of aluminum alloys that measures 26 meters in length with a maximum beam of 5.50. An all-around sailor, he fishes with excellent results: from inshore trolling to bottom fishing, from deep-sea fast trolling to bolentino, passing through freediving and more “traditional” techniques such as palamito. Learn more and get on board Clovis:






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