I’ve come a long way from the first fish we caught on Golden Glow, which happened last Labor Day weekend in Gardiner’s Bay, at the end of New York’s Long Island. Is there such thing as an accidental catching? We were beginning our sail back to NYC after a wonderful holiday weekend with Tim and my cousin’s family. We had just sailed through Plum Gut known as a hotspot for bluefish.
We had a line trolling behind the boat, but I thought we were going too fast to catch anything and I’d already made a mental note to bring in the line.
It was growing dark and Rand and I were tidying up the boat before our night watches began. I forget who reeled in the line, but we were both surprised to find a bluefish on the end. Sad to say, the fish had already died by the time we got it on deck. It wasn’t a very large fish and due to our lack of attention to the line, perhaps it drowned as it was dragged at speed.
Rand cleaned the Long Island bluefish – because I didn’t have the first clue how to – and I cooked it. I have to admit, this summer, when I landed* this beautiful Albacore Tuna sailing east from Gibraltar in the Mediterranean, I had yet to clean a fish on board.
* (okay “landed” is a fish story. I hooked the tuna on my watch around 5 in the morning but was so excited I woke Rand up, and besides I really did need his help; sailing the boat, dropping the sails and getting this big fish reeled in and on deck was too much for me to handle alone – hats off to you fisher people who do that single-handed!).
So it was more than time, and with Rand cheering me on (from bed…he had the sense to go back to sleep after he filleted half the fish as he instructed me on what to do) I bled out, cleaned and filleted my first fish.
Rand’s most important rule of cleaning a fish: Do not cut yourself! It took me the better part of an hour to finish the cleaning/filleting process of this 25lb tuna (of course I was on watch at the same time). Miraculously, I managed to do the fish cleaning without cutting my fingers off. Those fish-cleaning knives are very sharp, and the seas were choppy as I cleaned it on one of our back steps.
I’ve learned a bit about fishing since last year. For one thing, you need to have some speed to catch a tuna. However, about an hour before I caught this fish, we were clocking a super-fast 18.5 mph. We had slowed to about 8-9 knots when I hooked this tuna and I dropped our sails as soon as that happened to slow the boat down during the reeling-the-fish in stage.
Saving the best for last, here’s how I make tuna on the grill, and this recipe is really delicious. Once I had separated the fillets and put them in the freezer to preserve them, I kept one steak out and made a marinade so that we could have the fish for dinner.
I make the marinade with:
- 1 cup low-sodium soy sauce
the juice of one fresh lemon
1/4 cup of sherry
2 Tablespoons of freshly grated ginger (peel it first),
1/4 cup of chopped scallions/green onions,
1 garlic clove, chopped,
2 rounded Tbsps of freshly ground black pepper, and
a dash of red pepper flakes.
I marinated the fish in the refrigerator in a large zip-lock baggie, turning it periodically. After searing the fish outside on the grill, I cooked it until it was still pink inside, then served it with wasabi and ginger. There wasn’t a scrap leftover, the best sign of a good recipe.
Thank you dear Tuna; we honor and are humbly grateful for you.