Another fishy story, this time a Red Steenbras, in Seal Point…
Meandering across to Seal Point from J-bay, through the pastures and fields of green, accompanied by Brucifire, a few surfboards and some fishing rods…we drove past a crew unloading their boat, after a trip to sea at Seal Point, and pulled over. Since I am down in the Cape distributing and promoting Mydo Lures, I was hoping these guys would recognise the Mydo’s for their versatility and adaptability, and try them out in these waters.
It turned out to be Sheppy boy Mark White, now living in St. Frances. And he had just returned from a dive. Greetings were exchanged and soon I had the Mydo lures out on the table and Mark was ogling with enthusiasm. Mark had worked with by brother Marc, in the Natal Sharks Board, and is one of those…
After dropping a liberal helping of spoons and luck shots on the table, Mark pipes up – “Hey Sean, do you want a fish?!”. Ha ha ha, here we go again. But I nearly fell over when he hauled out a beautiful Red Steenbras, or Copper, as we call them in Natal.
Diving on his own, in 60 feet, Mark had an amazing catch of fish – all the right ones too! Baardman, reds and one Red Steenbras. You see, it’s not just the fact that these are almost the hardest fish to shoot in the world (they really like to hang out in deep water), they are also one of the most delicious!
And so it was, that without casting a line, we had caught another fish! Thanks Mark White!
Hell, these Mydos work!
And so, we have another Catch ‘n Cook series instalment for you…the rare and fabled Red Steenbras!
The fish may have gone 6kg’s, and was a cinch to fillet, leaving us with two huge slabs of white flaky fresh fish to play with. And a skeleton and a head – which were quickly popped into a huge pot and boiled up. When the fish was falling off the skeleton and the head fell apart, we removed as much of the meat as we could, and then strained the rest through a colander, into the same pot. Then we fried onions, peppers and garlic to golden brown, and chucked that into the same soup pot. And that cooked away on a slow boil.
Our hosts in J-bay, Dr. Kurt Mariano and his wife Noma, at JBay SurfView, are very health conscious people, and so we decided that, alongside the fried fish I was planning , we would also grill a chunk, using much the same method as that of when we cooked the kob we caught (ha ha) last week.
The rest of the fillets were cut into 1cm thick cutlets taken across the grain.
Noma had some Tempura batter, fresh from Thailand, which is simply a healthy version of the batter we make with regular white flour. She also had some exotic nut oils which we mixed half with butter and got the pan up to heat. Leaving the cutlets soaking in the Tempura (which featured added flavour of Italian Herbs and Spices and anything else I could find in the spice rack – but no salt), they were fried one by one in a light layer of oil and butter. Very light, this is NOT deep frying.
The soup was prepared by boiling the huge head and skeleton, for a half an hour. Manually removing the chunks of meat from the head is time consuming and hot work but there is no way around this task. Eventually, when you have gotten most of the meat into a new pot, you can strain the remains through a pasta colander, also into the new pot. In the meantime, onions, peppers, garlic and all those nice things were glazed in a bit of oil in a hot pan. Add this fry up to the new pot, and start to simmer – the longer the better. In this time you can taste test and twist the flavour the way you like it. Chilli is a great partner to fish soup, so we opened a tin of seshebo like chillied up onions and tomatoes and bombed that in too. The secret ingredient – a piece of orange rind…just chuck it in whilst cooking. Salt is almost necessary in this broth, but there is no need for MSG!
The grilled fish was done exactly like the kob we cooked here last week, that story is here.
Noma had prepared salad and mashed potato, and all the various dishes from that one fish were laid out for devouring.
Salt added to flavour, a glass of white wine and…what a meal!
Grilled, fried and souped – Red Steenbras!
Sean – “Ok, the touchy bit…Red Steenbras are endangered!
Red Steenbraas have been classified as endangered before, but all of a sudden, limited catches are now allowed again. Very limited. One per person per day, and over 60cm. Responsible people are keeping an eye on the stocks, but since they were reduced to endangered levels before, are proven sensitive to over-exploitation. It’s a fantastic fish to “Catch n’ Cook” but not so clever to buy and cook, or eat in a restaurant. Check out Sassi’s report on the vulnerable Red Steenbras. Sassi are affiliated to WWF and are a cool bunch of peeps really dedicated to preserving fish stocks.”