I don’t like fish.
I have never liked fish.
My mother loved fish and would try it on us but I just refused to eat it. My father wasn’t a big fish eater so she didn’t try too often. Thanks Dad. I think I used to eat fish sticks when I was a kid and I made tuna casserole when we were first married. But my husband who loves seafood of all kinds, quickly drew the line on tuna casserole. He would try to cook fish for me over the course of our marriage, not to torture me but because he enjoyed fish and wanted me to enjoy it with him. Well I love him but I just don’t like fish.
In 1987, our son was born. My husband and I agreed that we shouldn’t put our food phobias on him but let him try a lot of different food and let him decide. So if Curt made salmon for dinner, we would give Nathan some on his plate and I would promise to not make faces, wrinkle up my nose or make gagging sounds. There were many successes and some failures. One big failure was pickled herring. Once, when he was around 5, Nathan first tried pickled herring. He put it in his mouth and immediately removed it and tried to scrape his tongue clean with his fingers. It was pretty comical – I bet we could have won America’s Home Video if we had a tape of it. However, over the years even fish he didn’t enjoy as a child, he came to like as a teen and in high school and college he even began eating sashimi (and salad too, but that’s another post). Never herring though.
I have recently retired from working at the local public library. I would regularly work Monday evening and that night of the week soon became known as Boy’s Fish Night. I would not be home for dinner and Dad and the lad were on their own to cook and eat whatever they wanted and they wanted fish. When I came home from work the house always smelled really fishy. I didn’t mind they cooked fish but I insisted they use some air spray.
Once my son went off to college, Boy’s Fish Night ended. Curt would still cook fish on his own but he no longer had anyone to share it with. This past spring my son graduated from college and is currently living at home while searching for a job. This past Friday I was planning to have dinner with friends from work. I announced to Nathan and Curt that they would be on their own. Boy’s Fish Night!
Curt asked Nathan what he would like, his only criteria was, a whole fish. As we shopped Friday morning I saw a clerk holding up a fish over the counter while my husband smelled it. ” What’s going on?” “Making sure it’s fresh” was the response. So two whole trout were wrapped up to come home with us. I went out to dinner so the remainder of the story is Curt’s.
Well, first off, the house didn’t always smell REALLY fishy. Sometimes, yea, but fish always smells “fishy” to those who don’t like fish. I’ll admit that there were times that the house did smell pretty strong – usually when we had fish with the skin on. Now, I really like fish skin. The first time I encountered it was in a Japanese restaurant when I ordered a Crispy Salmon Skin Roll. It sounded exotic and tasty, a winning combination. Of course, the cook was doing what cooks everywhere except in modern America have done, they were working with the ingredients they had at hand and trying not to waste anything. If you’re making sushi or sashimi, the skin is usually removed from most of the fish species. But why waste it? Fried in its own fat, fish skin becomes crispy and delicious. Sprinkle on a little salt and you have the perfect “cook’s snack”. Actually, it’s fairly light (most of the fat is rendered out), crisp and just the right amount for a little bite. Kind of like fish chips.
On the nights that Jeanne thought the house smelled REALLY fishy I had probably cooked up some crispy fish skin, removed from a salmon fillet but not wasted.
Back to the trout. These were farm raised rainbow trout and were pretty fresh so cooking them whole was the order of the day. Lightly salted and peppered, dredged in some flour and fried in olive oil. Served with a side of Lundberg Black Japonica rice (they refer to it as a field blend of black and mahogany rice) which cooks up kind of purple but with a nice toothsome texture – better tasting than brown rice and it doesn’t take as long to cook as wild rice. Not to fear, normally I would have added some green vegetable but not this night. Boy’s Fish Night!