November 10, 2009

Pan-fried White Salmon with Sesame Miso Salad; Gutting a Fish

I was lucky enough to get my hands on two plump and bright-eyed Salmon, freshly caught off the seawater in Hastings, on the Mornington Peninsula (about an hour's drive from Melbourne). This would be the first time that I've attempted to scale and gut a fish, so off I went to google the steps on how to do the job!

Feeling slightly daunted by the idea of splattered blood and guts and sympathetic for the inncoent fish (not to mention  hot and sweating under this heatwave Melbourne is suffering), I approached the Salmon with clumsy fingers. However, determination eventually got the better of me and I scraped, cut and pulled as best I could to clean the fish. This is how you do it:

1. Hold the fish firmly with one hand and scrape it from tail to head with a scaler (or blunt knife or spoon). Don't forget the scales on top of the fish, at its collar, and near the fins and tail!

2. Rinse off the scraped scales with cold water, and double check to see if there are still scales to be removed.

3. Slit the tip of your fillet knife into the vent and slice along between the two pelvic fins, towards the mouth. Don't cut deeper than is necessary into the fish, or you may puncture the guts.

4. As the knife cuts the base of the lower jaw, cut diagonally from both pectoral fins towards the gills covers, then across the throat (the area just below the mouth).

5. This will enable you remove the guts by reaching in and grabbing at the base of head and pulling back everything under the mouth and taking out the insides - including the inedible gills, which can impose a bitter taste in the fish.

Fish gills

6. Finally, wash the scaled and gutted fish well in ice-cold water and prepare for cooking as per usual.

Before cooking, I simply cut diagonal slits along the side of the Salmon and stuffed it with a mixture of fresh dill, lemon zest and cracked pepper and sea salt.

To cook the fish, I used my mum's Chefel non-stick, double-sided frying pan, which was an easy no-mess way that took only about 7 minutes with the closed pan doubling as a steamer.


Slightly bending the Salmon to make it fit into the pan resulted in broken flesh, but, of course did not alter it's taste! The fish was still tender, sweet and zingy from the lemon, with crispy golden skin!

For an accompaniment with the Salmon, I made a basic salad of chopped Chinese lettuce leaves (from the garden), cucumber, alfalfa and tomatoes. I drizzled everything with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a delcious Kenko Miso Dressing that I bought from a Korean foodstore in Brisbane. It's one of the best that I have tasted and am so addicted to it! Ridiculously refreshing and fragrant with a hint of roasted sesame, I'm ALWAYS asked what dressing I use when I serve it in salads!

Pan-fried White Salmon with Sesame Miso Salad - This photo does not do the dish any justice! The fresh flavours of the fish, combined with the dill and lemon, paired very well with the summery and crisp salad

For more info on how to gut a fish:

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