April 21, 2003
I go deep-sea fishing a couple of times every year and I always come home with a load of black sea-bass and red snapper. Those are good fish to eat, but my favorite fish in the ocean is a trigger fish.
They are ugly. They are big, discus-looking critters that have no scales, but possess skin like leather. I've always been able to trade some sea-bass or a snapper for triggers when my fishing party gets back to the dock, because nobody wants the pain in the ass that it is to clean them. I don't mind that pain in the ass because the fish is worth it.
I clean a trigger by starting out with a hatchet. Once I chop the ugly rascal's head off, I can get my fillet-knife under that leathery skin and peel him from the inside out. And you PEEL a trigger. You don't scale him.
You end up with a fish that you can put on the grill, broil in the oven or cook on a stick over an open fire. It's all tender, white meat that falls away in hunks the size of your thumb if you cook it right, and the bones all come out in one connected piece. I LOVE trigger fish.
But I'm kinda weird anyway.
Trigger fish. Yum! Yum! The first time I tried to clean the 2 nice ones I had caught, I ended up calling a FL native friend to ask what diamond-tipped instrument he used to break through the hide. As you said, well worth the trouble.
Spent 4 hours in the Gulf off Panacea yesterday trying for Spanish and grouper (another yum yum). All I got was a sunburn. The people I went with always "tear em up" at that buoy. Uh huh. Long tide, rough seas, etc. given as "reasons" nobody got a bite. G/F was seasick most of the trip, had line in the water an hour or less. Still a great time, as fishing always is.
I've never seen Triggerfish but it sounds like cleaning them is a lot like catfish. I was on a canoe/camping trip a little while ago and managed to catch a number of good sized catfish. Used hotdogs for bait, catfish will eat anything . . .
Best-tasting fish I ever had was barracuda, back when the Navy had me on Antigua for a year and a half.
I had plenty of seafood down there, and enjoyed the hell out of it.
I used to fish for triggerfish on the west coast of Mexico when I was a kid. They called them cochi there. They were good eating, but I really liked how you could pull the trigger fin and make those nasty teeth snap.
DO NOT put your finger in a trigger's mouth when you're getting the hook out. They are as toothy as they are ugly.
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