Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Don't release your the flathead you catch when fishing!

Better off on my dinner plate
The flathead is a fairly common by-catch when we are fishing in estuary and inshore reef systems. More often that not, it is also a fish that readily takes baits and lures and cause frustration for anglers that are hunting other more valuable species. The most common species that we get here is the Bartailed Flathead. This species is one of the biggest locally and has a yellow/black marking on its tail.

But why the bias one may ask?

Is it Asian culture that prizes certain fishes more? Or is it that that flathead looks ugly? Or maybe Asian cuisine rarely uses the fish.

Well, after today I hope you don't throw away this species because it is absolutely top notch if prepared well. In a world that treasures sustainability, consuming flathead can go a long way in lowering demand for more prized fishes that may be seeing decline in their numbers. Flatheads are also prized in overseas fishing markets such as Australia. Fishermen fish for them exclusively.

I append a simple guide below on how to prepare the humble flathead. You can also apply most baked fish recipes or simply pan fry the bugger.

Preparation for cooking:
  • Depending on the size of the flathead, you can choose to remove the head or fillet the fish. I recommend this only for fishes above 800g.
  • The head has not much meat so you can chop it off.
  • You can opt to remove the fin and spikes with a scissors before scaling the fish because the scales are quite hardy and if you lose your grip, you won't get pricked.
  • If filleting, take note that the belly area is extremely tricky since it is considered a "long" fish. Don't waste the meat!
  • If the fish is small, pan fry is the better option as baking may deplete the juices. Perhaps a general guide is to panfry below 800g and to bake above 1kg.
  • Simple batter or seasoning works well. Think along the lines of flour, ground black pepper, salt, lemon zest and so on.
  • The flesh of the fish is fairly similar to snapper meat or halibut. Overcooking it means tough meat so treat it with care!
  • Most flatheads I caught in local waters often have eggs. Don't remove these away. Cook them with the fish. Tasty!
Happy eating flathead! Let me know if you have any other questions and I can help ;)

A recent flathead eating episode that I shared on my Facebook page. Pardon the tasty mangrove jack :p

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