After watching an episode of Chef’s Table featuring my man crush Alex Atala, I knew my aim in life was to catch up a fish and be a renegade hero of life and the jungle like him. I needed to go fishing.
In order to do this I needed a fishing rod. As Alex Atala is famous for living in and cooking Amazonian food I thought where else to get a quality rod up to the task than amazon – the purveyor of everything. With a rod snapped up, ignoring the number of reviews that said ‘only suitable for beginners, and not able to catch big fish’ (even though I am amateur and despite the fact I would probably shit my pants if I caught anything bigger than a goldfish, I wanted to think I was Robson Green standard and aiming for only fish bigger than a Marlin).
While I had dabbled with the idea of taking it to the fine fishing lake in Burgess park to catch a savoury meal, I had a family holiday to the Tuscan coast coming up, so decided it would be here I would land my Sistine Chapel, my Mona Lisa, my crowning glory of fish greatness.
Having set up the fishing rod (check out here for knot tutorials and bait teckers etc) I now had to catch a fish. I had heard ancient legends that you should aim for either dusk or dawn. Being the legend I am dawn was off the books, so dusk it was. Now for the bait.
That day I had bought a load of sardines to fry and have for lunch. These guys are fricking delicious, amazingly high in good stuff like calcium and omega 3 (no idea really what that is) so check out how to make them here.
To fry sardines you need to gut and cut the heads off them. These fish heads with the intestines hanging off would make the perfect bait. So with these saved in a disgusting fish decapitation mausoleum (a horrible, smelly plastic box) I headed to the beach. I had a also purchased some shiny fish lures that would help weight the line as I cast and also look like a tiny little fish. The fish guts and fish lure combo was sure fire fish ‘catnip’.
This was my first attempt so i am not going to lie, I was terrible.
We got to the end of the big pile of rocks, which to me looked like a potential fish fest, a place where fish would pay me to be caught. Ideal.My fishing experience is fairly minimal. I have done crab fishing, but never with a rod. Rather than try and guess I decided to ask around (mostly via the internet). Having learnt to tie badass knots to attach the lures, weights and hooks on, I needed to learn how to cast. Without pretending I know the technical details, and all of the names, you need to have the rod fully extended and the reel set on casting mode. With the guide flicked one way you will only be able to reel in, so make sure it is set to allow you to cast. Have the line out so that the lure is just towards the top of the rod. Hole the line with one finger onto the rod, flick back and throw it into the sea, remembering to let go of your finger. This is probably not correct, but it’s as much as I could gather from the internet on my phone before I needed to unleash my inner fisherman.
I set the rod up, poured myself a glass of 1 euro a litre wine (perfect fishing beverage) and attached a disgusting fish head to the hook. Wine is perfect because it is cheap and helps calm your nerves and can make even the process of throwing string into water treacherous,and therefore more daring, making you feel like you’re doing something far more impressive.
I cast the line out to see a lovely trail of line fly out while the fish head had already detached and landed about a metre from my body. I rolled in the line and attached another head and threw it out. I was sure I was going to land a whale this time. Unfortunately I noticed children swimming towards me and standing up not far from where I had thrown the line in. The water was up to their waist. While it was possible these children had legs the size of giraffes, or maybe they had stilts that they left in the sea so that they could show off to mermaids, this was improbable. While I looked the part, slightly tipsy from wine, shorts, good shirt and box of fish heads I had chosen the fishing spot very badly. It was time to call it a day, after about 15 minutes. I will try again soon, and probably have an epic to rival the old man and the sea.
In the meantime here is a recipe to perfectly cook Seabass on a bbq.
- BBQ primed for cooking
- Large Dish
What you need
- Seabass (scaled and gutted)
- 1-2 lemons (depending on size of the seabass)
- Olive Oil
- Sea Salt
Slice up your lemons into thin disks, as well as slicing the fennel into similar sized disks – cutting directly across the diameter of the fennel.
Place the fish into the large dish cover in a good seasoning of salt, pepper, olive oil and the zest of half lemon, making sure to get into the cavity in the stomach. Rub in the oil, salt and pepper mix making sure everything is covered. Now fill the cavity with the sliced lemons, fennel and a good bunch of parsley. Finally give a good squeeze of lemon all over.
Make sure you the bbq is nice and hot, but without flame, and then place the fish directly onto the grill. You might think that the fish will stick, however, if it does that mean it isn’t done. Let the fish cook until you can lift it from the grill without much of the skin sticking. It should mostly remain on the fish. Once you can lift it without too much trouble, flip it over and cook the other side. When the other side is done the fish should come off the bone super easily.
Now you’ve just got to either catch a Sea bass or go find one in a supermarket