Don’t Believe it when People or Books Refer to Some Species as Trash Fish

I often found it hard to believe books or people who refer to some species of fish as trash. I think some reject eating certain fish based on their ugly appearance or difficulty in cleaning and dressing.  However, I don’t get to fish much because my wife is disabled, and I’ve had to give her 24 hour care for 24 years.  I never had the chance to prove these claims wrong.  Recently, I discovered a youtube channel produced by a man who does just that.  He has videos of hundreds of outdoor recipes including a series entitled “Fish: Trash or Treasure.”  His youtube channel is The Backwoods Gourmet.

In the first episode I watched he prepared 2 species of saltwater catfish by frying them with a cornmeal coating.  Many books about fishing refer to them as “trash.”  Though they were a “pain to clean,”  the backwoods gourmet discovered hardhead catfish tasted just like freshwater catfish, and sailfin catfish tasted like sea trout.  Whoever labeled them as “trash” were wrong.  In another episode he prepared chain pickerel.  This is the 2nd species of fish I ever caught.  I was 10 years old, visiting my grandfather in Inverness, Florida, when he showed me how to set a pole out over night.  I jumped up and down in excitement upon awakening in the morning to find a pickerel on the line.  But my grandfather told me we couldn’t eat it because it was too bony.  The backwoods gourmet was able to filet 2 boneless backstraps from a chain pickerel, and he pronounced it delicious.  John Lawson, an early settler of North Carolina, once found 300 chain pickerel in his fish trap circa 1710.  (See: )

The backwoods gourmet tried bonita, a species of tuna thought of as trash.  He blackened some and smoked the rest, and said it tasted as good as restaurant tuna.  He also fried black drum, and sheepshead roe.  The black drum was good, and he enjoyed the creamy sheepshead roe.  I boiled freshwater bream roe and discovered they tasted just like bland chicken eggs.  But to me, store bought caviar pretty much tastes like fish guts and needs to be mixed with cream cheese to get it down.

Sea robins are a bizzare-looking fish that the backwoods gourmet fileted and sautéed in garlic butter.  He called it “amazing.  Another really strange-looking fish he tried was remora.  This interesting species has a sucker on the top of its head that attaches to a shark’s body.  When the shark is feeding, the remora detaches itself and feeds on the scraps.  The backwoods gourmet said they tasted like red snapper.

Backwoods gourmet shows how to clean and cook a remora fish.

In another episode the backwoods gourmet prepares long-nosed gar.  This species was a favorite of the American Indian, and it is still popular in Cajun cuisine.  He had to use a pair of snippers to cut through the thick armor.  He said it tasted like alligator.  In the entire series the backwoods gourmet found just 1 species that he labeled trash–the ladyfish.  It tasted good but was just too full of bones to eat.

There are a couple additional aquatic animals the backwoods gourmet cooks on his youtube series.  Frog legs are not all that unusual and are considered a delicacy in France.  That’s why the French are sometimes known as “frogs.”  He turned soft-shelled turtle into grilled kabobs and said they were chewy and tasted like chicken.  The 1 time I cooked turtle, I was able to make the meat tender by pounding it with a meat mallet, and I thought it tasted like lobster.  On the 4th of July he staged a turtle egg-eating contest.  The white on a turtle egg never gets hard no matter how long it is boiled.  The 3 adults who tried the turtle eggs liked them but a kid almost gagged on it.


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One Response to “Don’t Believe it when People or Books Refer to Some Species as Trash Fish”

  1. ina puustinen westerholm Says:

    First things first. If your wife is able to make it to town clinics and appointments..I figure ,there is a good chance she would like a change of scenery..periodically. There are heaps of the various chairs..and ‘adjusted’ that a genuine, outdoor around the corner. If she is not interested..then hiring an watch her care, and needs..for a day..with you..carrying along the ability to initiate cell phone pictures for you are..out and about. is no surprise..that i am a trout only to my generations of family experience. If we should..before i ‘kick’..get SO warm..and we have all the kinds of..warm water fish..take over..the water ways..well..i might just be forced into..expirimentation. Until that happens..i will the recipes offered up, rattle my bone china ..handpainted tea cup..gently..extend my hands in a ..imagined..deep south ‘wafting manner’..and..just keep movin’ on. Oh..and ..readjust moi grandmothers 3 strand of 1950s, fish scale layered immitation pearls. i can do for to version..of ‘ scales’…..

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