Catch n Cook: Queen Mackerel (aka Natal Snoek)
There are very many nice things about fishing the islands off Vilankulos, and one of them, is Margaruque. We pass the beautiful island on the way out to sea each morning, with the sun. And then as the sun is going down again, on the way home. From the snorkeling beach, frequented often by tourists over from the mainland for the day, to the canyons, is about a few kilometres. Through the washing machine, which at low tide is quite a story, and the bottom all but disappears.
This is where the marlin swim. Blue and Black. And the Wahoo. And the bait they are following. Yellowfin and bonito. It’s all-time fishiing fun and every time you put a lure in the water, you are in the game for a 1000 pounder! Hold on tight!
But sometimes it gets a bit rough out there. There is no place for the swell to meet land gradually – it’s really deep water right there. And with some current and a stiff onshore, any swell can get riled up and miserable.
Unbelievably as it looks in the photos below, the sea was quite rough out back. And the family wanted some island time. So we quickly shot through the washing machine, and headed to the snorkeling beach.
That’s when all hell broke lose!
I though they were skipjack at first. But my first cast proved they were Queen Mackerel aka Natal Snoek. And plenty of them. I handed the rod to super eager Callum, and threw my next gun (I had four, locked and loaded, spread around me on the bow of the huge Shades of Blue), the Mydo spoon lasted a second and another snoek jumped on. I gave that stick to Kyle, Callum’s older brother, and went back and got Callum’s fish out. I threw the next gun while Captain Gallop took the fish to the back for processing. ANd went vas straight away. Callum got the rod. Kyle’s fish came in close and I gaffed it. I threw the next rod and as I started cranking on the top, a snoek chased me to the boat. Now they were all around. I dropped the spoon over, for a few metres, flipped the bail, started to wind and bang, another one. Callum was still busy but I got the last gun out and fired. Vas again. I took Callum’s fish from him, and gave him the new one. He was sweating and glowing red in the sun and action. Got Callum’s second fish out, and then Kyle’s came to gaff, a nice big fish as can be seen in the photo. Gallop was passing me the loaded guns back over the front and it became a blur of fish and ratchets and laughter and blood and good all round family times.
Tracey (Callum’s mom), was snapping with her iphone, and Paul was just soaking it all in! Beaming.
Eventually, I was struggling to lift the long gaff with one arm and fighting a fish (we had lost the small one on the last trip – don’t ask), and we had too many fish, and Callum was beat and Kyle too! So with sweat dripping from our brows, we leapt into the clear blue water and scared the snoek the hell away from us!
Enjoy the gallery…Catch n Cook recipe after…
Cooking Queen Mackerel
Right, so now we had a bunch of prime Natal Snoek to give out to our delighted neighbours, and to stock the fridges for James and Saambou, the boat management team up there. And to feast on!
I hardly really push frying anything in the Catch n Cook series, but with snoek, the personal favourite of many an angler – it’s fryin’time!
The fish fillets so easily, and once skinned, there you have the most magnificent oily and sweet white fish.
Some flour, milk and an egg starts an easy batter. The thickness is up to you. The more thick you make it, the more the batter puffs up around the fish. I like it medium – and you can adjust as you go. Now you can flavour your batter in oh so many ways. A dash of salt and pepper. And then go with it. Your favourite herbs and spices. Hopefully fresh from your garden. Grate some onions and garlic and chuck it in there. Peri peri in gentle increments. Flavour as you go!
The batter encloses the fish, and keeps it’s juice and flavour well preserved inside. The flavours in the batter melt with the fish, in your mouth.
You kind of have to submerge the piece of fish you have cut, in oil, for cooking. I like fish finger shaped cuts – long and thin. Duck the fish fingerling into the batter, covering it completely. Then very slowly submerge it on a fork or something, into the boiling oil.
Cook it until it goes golden brown – not for too long!
Serve. It’s far more fun to just keep serving as the fish comes off the stove – onto a big plate surrounded with condiments and eating things. Very social!
More Catch n Cook articles can be found here…