Happy New Year! To start 2015 off, here’s a quick recipe, with my first experience of gutting fish!
I don’t know if you are the same as me, and love scouring the reduced items in the meat/fish departments when we do our regular food shop. Tesco and the Co-op are really good at reducing these – particularly the Tesco fish counter if you time it right. A few weeks ago, we bought two whole rainbow trout (weighing almost 1kg) for less than £2 (reduced from £7), so we shoved them in the freezer and earmarked them for a post Christmas evening supper, when the sight of festive leftovers became too much for us to stomach!
When we came to use them last night, I wasn’t sure if they would have been gutted and cleaned or not. When we opened up the bag, they hadn’t, so I quickly got to work – by looking online for instructions! (Seriously, what did we do without the internet?) I found a blog called Country Skills for Modern Life, which I think I’ll be going back to for another look! The instructions on there were really easy to follow, and I didn’t find it too bad considering I was removing the organs and whatnot from another living creature (not sure what the fish thought)!
Below are some pictures of the process.If you find such things a little gruesome, maybe scroll down quickly…
Firstly, the fish need a good wash to get rid of the mucus that protects them in the water when they are alive and swimming along happily. Wipe with a paper towel.
Then, place your fish on a board, (and make sure you have some kind of receptacle for the guts that will be exiting the fish shortly, I used our food recycling bin), get a short sharp knife and make a series of short incisions that start at the fin by the head (the pectoral fin) and run down to the bottom fin (anal fin). As soon as you do this you will find that blood and guts start seeping out right away. Slide the knife along the incisions that you’ve made but don’t slide the knife in too far – ie not right to the back of the fish. Then start scraping out the guts of the fish.
Then, (this is probably the most gruesome part of the process) you will see what looks like a tendon, which needs to be pulled out. There really is no easierway (I wish there was!) than pulling this out with your bare hands, as there is a wee bit of traction, cutting with a knife here simply doesn’t work!
Do more scraping out, until you are ready to start the cleaning part of the process!
I actually found the cleaning part under running cold water the worst part of this process – the water was freezing cold and my fingers were numb by the time I had cleaned two fish!
The instructions I followed then list how you fillet a whole fish, but as we planned to bake them whole, I got on with preparing the stuffing. I sliced two leeks, slowly sauteed them in black pepper and butter for 8-10 minutes, then added the zest of a lemon and a good handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley.
Then I all had to do was stuff the cleaned fish with the leek mixture, and cover the oven tray with foil.I baked in a medium oven (180c fan) for about 20 minutes, then increased the temperature to 200c for 5 minutes.
We had planned to have some couscous with the fish, but we each actually plumped for a fried egg on the top! The leek, lemon and parsley went beautifully with the delicate flavour and texture of the rainbow trout.