What: Fishing For Blue Fish in Montauk
Where: Montauk, NY
This Search took me to a large fishing boat in Montauk, Long Island. The Viking Starship (http://www.vikingfleet.com/). We were supposed to be fishing out in the open sea, but Hurricane Bill had turned the ocean into a total crazy mess of giant waves. We ended up motoring around Block Island Sound; much calmer, but also much more limited in terms of fish diversity. We would be fishing primarily for Bluefish.
Now, I know a lot of people who hate Bluefish. It is frequently described as oily and unbearably fishy. In fact, these haters of Bluefish are so vehement in their dislike of this tragically misunderstood fish, that I have avoided it at all costs. Why eat Bluefish when I could have delicate Snapper or meaty Tuna? Why would I want my fish to taste like...fish?
The truth is, sometimes it is nice to have a fish that's got a little more punch to it. A fish that reminds you of the waters it came from. In the case of the Bluefish we caught, cooked and ate for this post, one could never have described it as tasting fishy. It was as fresh as the sea, clean and briny with a real depth and sophistication to it. It wasn't oily, rather, but moist and meaty. Both delicate and aggressive in flavor and texture. It was Delicious.
But let's back up a little here to the actual fishing expedition. I'm one of those cooks who, though I like to know where my food comes from, I don't like to necessary see it in its living state. I've never gone hunting, and I've only been fishing once, many years ago, and we thankfully didn't catch a thing. As I boarded the Starship at 8am on that fateful Sunday morning, I tried to mentally prepare myself for catching an innocent fish from the ocean and watching it suffocate to death. I was very nervous.
We baited our hooks with very stinky, sticky strips of clam (do fish eat clams?). And then we dropped the lines.
And we waited.
I guess fishing is all about waiting. I kept peering into the water, waiting for my victim to appear. But nothing happened.
We moved around the Sound for about an hour, in hot pursuit of our catch. And finally, at our fourth spot, someone at the other end of the boat cried: "FISH!". It was thrilling. And sure enough, after about 2 minutes of tugging and reeling and whatever else you do when "fishing", a large silver fish, about a foot long, appeared. "It's a Bluefish!" The lucky guy exclaimed.
5 more Bluefish were caught, none by me. I was secretly very happy about this.
We took home two big ones for dinner (thankfully cleaned and gutted for us).
I was pretty excited to cook the fish. It was so fresh, with shiny, clear eyes and bright, blood red gills. I stuffed the fish with lemons, parsley and basil and smeared it with olive oil and a hearty dose of salt and pepper. We grilled it over a charcoal fire, for about 8 minutes on each side till the skin was charred and the reddish blue flesh had turned white. (See recipe)
Because I was so afraid of the Bluefish being offensively fishy, I whipped up a quick, pungent sauce of chopped beefsteak tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, basil, vinegar and lemon juice. The sauce worked well with the fish, but it really was not necessary. The fish stood on it's own. As fresh and pure and tasty as a fish can be.
I learned a Delicious lesson while fishing for Blues. You gotta try everything, at least once, even if people tell you something is not worth trying. It would've been terrible for me to have missed out on such a lovely fish, just cause it had a bad rap. Be an adventerous eater! It is essential to your own Search.