I struck out early Sunday morning for Avondale market and did my usual rounds, filling a backpack with coriander, cabbage and aubergines. I dropped in at the cheerful bread guy, and had the mandatory sunday breakfast on skewers at the Oriental street food bus. I came prepared with a list of possible fish and some corresponding ingredients to find with each option. There were several relatively clear-eyed looking trevally on offer so I picked out the largest one then struck back out into the market to find some lemons and green chillies.
Tandooried hake had caught my eye in a 1987 paperback edition of Rick Stein’s English Fish Cookery. Tandooried! …And hake! Hake is one of those familiar sounding but utterly mysterious fish I know nothing about. As I described in the previous post, hake is on a back-burner for now, but I had seen trevally suggested as a stand-in. Trevally are a schooling fish who feed on krill and plankton and seem to show up in the same area as snapper around the North island, and similarly can be caught with rod and reel from the rocks.
So I’m arriving home with this fish and contemplating how the recipe calls for steaks. Very specifically the steaks must be cut from the central section of the fish. *shrug*. At least one of the steaks will be right …right? I watched a couple of how-to-gut-a-fish videos and set to it. After much swearing and brown muck smeared everywhere I got the job done. An important and obvious-in-retrospect take away is that if you are going to be cutting the head off anyway, you don’t need to worry about all the guts and stuff that’s attached to its throat.
I’ve never stopped to think about whether some fish are better suited to steaks or fillets. I noticed how its almond shaped torso tapered off sharply toward the tail. At this stage I also glanced at the fish poster and noticed the trevally is of a representative cartoon fishey sort of shape, while the Hake is long and cigar shaped. You would clearly be able to get several similar sized steaks from the latter.
I had read about the bloodline down the side of the fish that is generally cut out of fillets, and it appears fillets is how trevally usually come, so along with two steaks I cut two comically miniscule fillets. I then threw together the marinade ingredients without really thinking about how they would look together, and was super impressed with how tasty the simple combination of mint, lemon juice, coriander, turmeric, paprika, pepper, green chilli and yoghurt was. The whole lot went into a bag in the fridge for 4 hours, providing a good opportunity to tidy up and have a breather.
I cooked the steaks over a hot grill and they were great. It was a bit finnecky getting around the bones but the flavour was good and I suspect the marinade shored up the slightly fishy taste. I reckon I’ll come back to this recipe, but next time with the whole fish or just fillets.