Scenes from Alaskan Fish Camp: Filleting a Yelloweye Rockfish Right on the Boat
In early August I went to Alaska to learn about fish. During my weeklong sail down the Chatham Strait, it was not uncommon for the crew and my companions to catch fish in the afternoon, filet it within the hour right on the boat, and then eat it for dinner. Talk about knowing where your food comes from!
“Fish camp,” as those of us on the trip affectionately refer to it now, and sponsored by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, was a firsthand look at the seafood sustainability policies and efforts that govern the fishing industry in that state. While there were many memorable moments on that trip — watching a 20,000 pound salmon set come in being one — it was the immediacy with which we engaged with our food that I found so, well, awesome. Take this yelloweye rockfish, for example:
I did not catch this sucker. I can’t remember who did — it may have been Hank Shaw, angler extraordinaire, and one of my traveling companions, or another crew member, but I do remember that everyone was pretty thrilled to have brought this guy on board.
Yelloweye rockfish, otherwise known as red snapper (but not to be confused with the red snapper found in the Gulf of Mexico), is a deepwater whitefish recognized by its brilliant orange color and yellow eyes. The flavor of the meat is delicate, slightly sweet, and flaky — great for fish tacos.
This yelloweye rockfish, like all fish we caught, was bled immediately. Bleeding a fish keeps the fish fresh and helps preserve the flavor. To bleed a fish, one simply cuts into the gill arch so that the blood can drain out of the body cavity. It happens pretty quickly. Once bled, fish can keep for awhile on ice until they’re ready to be filleted. This yelloweye rockfish had probably been out of the water for a couple hours at max before Tyson (seen above) filleted him it on the stern— a process that took only a couple minutes, hardly even enough time for me to photograph it!
But perhaps my favorite part of the catching-your-dinner scenario? Throwing the fish carcass overboard when you’re done! Easiest cleanup ever.
A Few Ways to Cook Yelloweye Rockfish
Ever had yelloweye rockfish? What’s your favorite way to cook it?
(Information for this post was gathered during a press trip sponsored by the AlaskaSeafood Marketing Institute. All views and opinions expressed in this post are the personal views of the author.)
(Images: Cambria Bold)