I had a break-through yesterday!
For the first time since coming to American Samoa, I felt like a true island mom.
Let me explain.
We live on an island that has so much to offer. Nate loves to go spear-fishing and I love to eat fish. Total symbiotic relationship going on here! The only problem is that I don’t like or really know how to get the fish from the ocean to my plate. I’m pretty good at cooking a filet that I bought frozen, from the store, but have almost no experience with fresh fish. A few times, Nate has speared a fish, cleaned it out, prepped and cooked it, and presented it on my plate, at dinner time. That’s how I prefer it. My man knows just how to spoil me.
A couple times, Nate has speared a fish, cleaned it and left it in the fridge for me to make for lunch for myself. I’m ashamed to say, the fish has sat in the fridge until it was slimy (not regular fish slimy) and no longer appetizing, at all. I could never get myself to take the slippery fish out of the fridge and stare it in the eye, while preparing it for my consumption.
Last Saturday, Nate speared a fish. He cleaned it. He left it in the fridge for me to cook for lunch one day. He knows how much I love fish and so he keeps on getting them for me, in hopes that I will actually eat them. Yesterday, I woke up and said, “Today, I am eating fish for lunch!”
When lunchtime rolled around, I got the kids’ lunch, sandwiches and kiwi, and then pulled the fish out of the fridge. I opened the bag, and almost put it back in the fridge, to let it get slimy and then throw it out. It was looking at me, and I didn’t know where to start.
I remembered Nate saying something about descaling it, I grabbed a knife and began, what I thought was descaling. It wasn’t. I really wasn’t accomplishing anything, just feeling frustrated that it was not working.
I decided, instead of starting with descaling, I needed to get the head off, so it would no longer be staring me down. I don’t think my little paring knife was made for chopping through fish spines, but I made my way through.
With the head gone, I decided to take the whole skin off, instead of trying to take each, individual scale. It was slow going, but it worked. I removed the skin and then tail.
My hands smelled so strongly of raw fish, that I was afraid I would never get the smell off.
In the end, I had a roughly skinned, bone-in filet of parrot fish. I grabbed some aluminum foil and placed the fish in the center. I sprinkled some freshly-chopped green onions and garlic salt on top. Added a little lime juice and just a dash of coconut cream. Then, wrapped it up and put it in the oven, set at 350 F. It smelled amazing, as it cooked in the oven. And when I couldn’t stand it any longer, I pulled it out and opened it. It looked like it was cooked through, so I gabbed a plate, and sat down to eat my self-butchered fish.
I took one tentative bite, remember it still had bones in, and placed it in my mouth. I have never and will never claim to be a gourmet, but dang, that was delicious! It was a perfect fusion of all the flavors that went into it. It had the taste of the sea, with the bite of onion and citrus, and an almost sweet, creaminess from the coconut cream.
Kip usually likes fish, but he could not get enough of it. I even sacrificed that very last bite, which I had used to mop up all the creamy goodness from the plate to satisfy his appetite. Hadley and Holden have never been fish eaters, and yet, I was able to talk them both into trying it and none of it came back up, in fact, they both said it was pretty good. I call that a win.
Now, I look forward to seeing another fish in the fridge. No longer will I feel guilty about letting freshly-caught fish go bad because I am too intimidated to prepare it for the oven.
To make me feel even better, I have tried papaya a few times and just can’t get myself to like it, but I am determined to be able to eat it before we leave. I keep hearing of so many health benefits. Plus, they are everywhere! So, Tuesday I bought one, and was given two more, determined I will keep trying it until I like it. Yesterday for lunch, along with my fish, I finally enjoyed it! It was chilled, with a little lime juice.
I finally felt like a true island girl, with my fresh fish and papaya lunch. I am really starting to get a handle on this island life.
Tell me, what is your favorite way to cook fish? Believe me, I’ll be making a lot more in the near future.
Samoan Language Study
To finish learning Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes from last week: