Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Fish fingers and salty air

What better way to spend a day than messing about on the sea with er, a fishing rod and a dozen men? 

I've been a bit preoccupied by the onset of Autumn and the incredible spectrum of mushrooms that have popped up over the last few weeks. Too busy to blog about my fishing trip I'm afraid, until now.

I grew up in Brighton so the concept of fishing isn't alien to me, it had just never occurred to me that I might try it. Until I was gently coerced into going on a mackerel fishing trip with my partner that is. See, this is what happens when I let him organise our weekends. 

And so I came to be on a tiny boat in Brighton, bobbing around a mile off the Sussex coast, the sole female and wearing quite unsuitable footwear. Ballet pumps had seemed a reasonable choice that morning, but then I wasn't expecting to be sluiced down with fish water by the afternoon. 

Good points: It was a beautifully clear, sunny day, with barely a whisper of movement on the water. No seasickness then. And we caught some fish. And then some more. And more, and more and more until our bucket was so full we couldn't land any more. Fifty two sparkling eyed young mackerel simply leapt onto our hooks that day, an astonishing catch. 

Bad points: I mentioned the shoes, right? Also, when a fisherman shows you how to get a wriggling, desperate-eyed fish off the hook it looks easy. Trust me when I say it isn't. 

After ninety minutes we had a unfeasibly large bucket fish, and a warm glow of satisfaction from catching line caught mackerel, which should earn me back the foodie brownie points which I recently squandered in a flurry of Vietnamese cooking that cost me dearly in food-miles (why can't they grow lemongrass and galangal in London eh?). 

Those spanking fresh little beauties were a revelation in taste, totally different from what I had come to assume was a 'true' mackerel flavour. Much lighter, less pungent and oily than the more mature fish. We ate the first couple very simply grilled with salt and pepper in soft white buns, with a lightly pickled cucumber salad on the side. Total heaven. The mild flesh also lends well to dishes that I would normally reserve for white fish. The South Indian curry we made for dinner was delicious, using meaty chunks of mackerel to soak up the fragrant spiced sauce. 

If you're interested in trying your hand, pack some wellies or sturdy shoes (and may I suggest a cloth for your fingers, you will end up with fish fingers) and give Watertours a call. They carry on until November, so you have precious weeks left before they pack up again until the Spring.

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