Chef Cosmo Goss is a man who is full of Fish Tricks for cooking your catch.
Rather than focusing on a part of the fish, you should consider the size of the fish and of course the quality of the meat itself. When you fillet the fish, look at the quality of the flesh. What you really want to see is deep, rich color and lots of inter muscular fat.”Chef Cosmo Goss
Chef Cosmo Goss (https://www.cosmogoss.com/ )is the Food Editor of Fish Travel Eat. In addition to a resume that includes running top restaurants in Chicago, California and New York, Cosmo is a passionate fisherman.
Not only does Chef Cosmo run a boat in Southern California and the Mexican Baja catching bluefin, but he consults with the Zancudo Lodge in Costa Rica—building menus and providing chef services. He also consults for Bubba Blade, a great fishing lifestyle brand that produces fillet knives and all manner of gear and tools designed to improve your time on the water.
A well-rounded, waterman and chef Cosmo Goss here provides fish tricks to fisherman to help get the most out of cooking your catch….
Fish Trick: Filleting Your Catch…
Most fishermen want to cut their fish as soon as they hit the dock. Others can’t even wait that long and process their catch on the way in.
This, however, is a mistake. If you have a way to keep your fish on ice and cold WAIT to cut it up. This simple fish trick is worth the extra time and care is worth it.
We get it; you’re tired, you’ve been in the sun all day and you don’t want to have a mess to clean up tomorrow. All that said, believe me when I say this tip is worth the extra effort.
Fish Trick: Wait until the fish has gone through rigor mortis before cutting.
Rigor mortis, from the Latin– Stiffness (Rigor) Death (Mortis), is the process of stiffening of joints and muscles that occurs after death. The process results when the body of a fish ceases to produce oxygen through respiration.
One of oxygen’s primary functions in the living body is to help muscles relax.
If you want to get all technical about it, oxygen is required to power the body’s muscle relaxation process. When your fish is caught and placed in the fish box—and no longer produces oxygen, the body tenses up during rigor mortis.
The stiffening of rigor mortis may last two day days or so. Rigor mortis gives way to relaxation as the myosin heads in the fish’s muscle tissue are degraded causing it to relax.
Cutting the fish once it has had to opportunity to complete this natural tenderizing process can make a world of difference when it comes to texture and flavor.
I can’t tell you how often I hear, “Eat the fish you caught that day for dinner that night, it doesn’t get any fresher!”
Cutting this fish before it has completely gone through rigor mortis can result in tough, chewy or pasty fish.
When the fish has had time to relax not only will the flesh be cleaner and more tender but also easier to fillet. You will have a much easier time cutting the fish if you cut it the following morning, or with something like tuna, waiting two days is even better.
We suggest heading and gutting the fish to save of space in the fridge or coolers. If you don’t believe us try it side by side the difference will be night and day.
Letting your fish rest on ice for a couple days is basically the same process that your favorite steakhouse employs when it comes to that dry aged ribeye you like so much. The result is meat that is not only more tender, but also more flavorful. This fish trick is simple and easy… just wait for a couple of days and let the ice work for you.
Choosing the Fillet…
Picking the right part of the fish to cook and eat is as important as the tackle you choose to catch it.
When it comes to raw preparations everyone always wants the belly….. belly, belly, belly. Blah, blah, blah…
Rather than focusing on a part of the fish, you should consider the size of the fish and of course the quality of the meat itself. When you fillet the fish, look at the quality of the flesh. What you really want to see is deep, rich color and lots of inter muscular fat.
Fillets with those attributes will yield a much richer, cleaner sashimi bite.
The other primary consideration is of course the size of the fish itself. Fish are kind of like people… the older and more mature they become, the more likely they are to be fat (Ha!).
If the fish isn’t old enough or big enough, it will not have had time to produce enough muscle fat. Take yellowfin tuna for example.
If you want to eat it raw and you want to consume the prized BELLY, you really want a fish that’s at least over 80 pounds. If you take the belly from a smaller fish, the texture can be stringy and full of sinew.
That’s certainly not to say that you shouldn’t eat a 60 pound tuna raw, it’s just that it might be best to choose a different part of the fillet. In this case, I always suggest center curt top loin. The second fish trick, it turns out, just relates to analyzing the fish you are working with.
When it comes to cooked fish, you again want to look at the size of the fish. In this case it’s not so much the fat content that matters, but the actual size of the fillet.
For cooking your catch, you not only want a piece that is thick enough (an inch or so, depending on your preference and the cooking application), but also that is uniform in its thickness.
Having a piece that is the same thickness throughout will ensure that it cooks evenly. This fish trick relates to nothing more than paying attention to portion size– no magic sauce here.
If you’re cooking a tail piece that tapers to a very narrow point at one end, you will likely deal with uneven cooking. Take care not to overcook this portion, as no one likes to eat a dry piece of fish.
The moral of this tip? Pay attention when you fillet your fish.
While some fillets are higher quality than others, with proper care you can make the most out of all of them. After all, you took a lot of time getting all the details right to catch the fish. Have that same attention to detail when you process the fish to eat it.
Cooking Your Catch…
These fish tricks for catching and cooking could go on forever, but let’s start with a couple of the more popular fish cooking applications.
Grilling – After all, who doesn’t like some grilled fish?
When you grill a fillet of fish, you almost always want a medium-high heat grill. If your grill temperature is too low, the fish will stick. Grill too high, the fish will either burn or cook the outside to fast, while leaving the inside raw.
There are exceptions to every rule but this is our advice for MOST of the fish fillets.
Having Skin in the Game
Leaving the skin on tour fillet while grilling can get really tricky, but crispy fish skin is amazing. The fish trick here is getting that perfectly crispy fish skin involves not only grill temperature, but also how you oil the fish.
Too much oil will catch everything on fire when the oil drips down into the fire. Too little oil and the skin will stick to the grill.
It may actually never come off until you tear the fish away from the skin. This has probably happened to everyone…
What was once a beautifully seasoned gourmet, looking dinner item turns into a janky-looking fish fillet that is scraped, skinless off the grill. To cover the evidence and bury your shame, you’re then left to try and scrape the skin into the coals.
Worry not, we have the perfect fish trick.
Next time you grill your fish skin side down, simply rub the fish with a little mayonnaise. This will not only help keep the fish moist but it will also keep it from sticking.
Oh, and worry not– your dinner will not taste like mayonnaise, it will just help with the cooking
Stove Top Fish Trick – After fishing outside all day, sometimes you want to cook inside the house.
A great, nearly universal stove top cooking method is to sear your fish. Searing involves cooking the fish on high heat—a process that locks in moisture and flavor. Here’s how to do it like a pro.
When you sear fish in a pan, do so over high heat with more oil than you might think. You want a small layer of oil covering the entire surface of the pan.
Be sure to use a high heat oil such as rice bran oil or canola oil. Olive oil will almost always burn before the oil is hot enough to ensure that fish will not stick to the pan (or effectively sear it).
Season your fish 5-10 minutes before cooking. Right before putting it in the pan, pat the fillet dry.
Place the pan over high heat and wait until the oil is almost smoking. Next, tip the pan away from you so there is no chance for the oil to splash up and burn you. Now, slide the fish into the oil and agitate it.
Keep the fish moving slightly in the pan for about 10-15 seconds and then turn the heat down to medium. It is during this first 10-15 seconds of cooking that you are starting to create a crust.
In addition to benefits to flavor, this crust will ensure your fish doesn’t stick to the pan.
Cook the fish to your desired finish, flipping the fish half way through the cooking process. When you flip it to agitate the pan for another 5-10 seconds so the other side doesn’t stick either.
Of course there are 101 ways to cook a bass but here are a couple tips on the ways we like to cook ours.
Enjoy, Chef Cosmo.
For some more inspiration related to food and fishing travel, check out “The Fishing Passport.”