The saga of the wigly fish

A guest post from Uncle Jared:

Just remember, if you take the time to read this, you will never, ever get these three minutes of your life back.

We do Meatless Monday for dinner at our house.  Since we’re Catholic, meatless can include Fish.

Most of my family (everyone except for me) hates fish, unless it has been boxed up and frozen by Van de Kamps.  I have heard that eating very fresh fish can be the difference between liking it and hating it.  I decided to try feeding my family very fresh fish, and seeing how it went.

Near our house is an urban farm that uses Aquaponics to grow organic vegetables and fish.  I called them just before I left work, and asked them to have 6 freshly caught perch waiting for me as I picked up my kids from daycare and went home.  I asked them if they would fillet the fish for me, but they told me that they would not.  They offered to sell me frozen fillets, but I felt that this would defeat the purpose of the exercise.

We stopped in, and paid for the fish.  They handed me a bag filled with ice and perch.  I asked the clerk for tips on filleting them, and she directed me to the following YouTube video:

A fun fact: the girl in the video is the one who sold us the fish.  I’ll never forgive her.

Also: She’s right about wanting a fillet knife.  In fact, if you’re going to ever try this yourself, make sure that you have a knife that Quentin Tarantino would describe as “sharp as the devil himself“.

We got home, I watched the video, and then I mixed together my breading for the fish.  I opened up the bag, dumped out the ice, took out a very, very slippery fish, and put it on the cutting board.  I got my fillet knife, and started sawing at the fishie’s side, just beneath the pectoral fin, and the thing started flopping around.

I said a naughty word, and took two steps back.  This was not going according to plan.  I had really hoped that these fish would have been humanely killed to death before I got anywhere near them.

I decided that the kind thing to do would be to put an end to their fishy suffering as quickly and painlessly as I could manage.  I went to our knife drawer, and got my wife’s beautiful, and wickedly sharp Wüsthof paring knife.  I put its point to the fishie’s little fishy skull, said a short prayer, and lobotomized the shit out of him.

A job well done.  Now, on to dinner.

I took the knife out, and he started flopping around like an angry beaver’s tail.

I said another naughty word.  It turns out that perch are tough bastards.

At this point, the other five fish have begun to understand what’s going on, and have begun flopping around inside the bag.  I had to act quick before they formed a plan and made good their escape.

I had no interest in cutting all of the muscle off of a live animal.  I needed to find a way to very quickly and painlessly, and very permanently put an end to these slimy and hyperactive food items before they went all Stalag Luft 3 on me.

Those of you who have known me for a long time, know that in my youth I had a borderline unhealthy interest in knives and swords, and other sharp blades.  A few of these relics have followed me through the years, stowed at the bottom of my closet.  I ran to my room, and came back with this:


Even with this knife, chopping with all of the strength that my queasy stomach could muster, it took quite a bit of work to cut through the scales, the fins, the bones and gills.  There was fish blood, and other less easily identifiable substances all over the counter.  It quickly turned into a fishy blood-bath.

At this point, it was 30 minutes past our usual dinner time, and I decided to fillet these stupid, twitching headless fish corpses later.  I bagged them up again, hoping that they would be less active in an hour or two.   I used the breading that I had made on some chicken breasts that were in the refrigerator.

I wasn’t very hungry for dinner tonight.

No fish is safe from these guys, though.  They’re way more manly than me:

Important lessons, there. Thanks, J-Love.