I have said before that I believe in sustainable eating--in only taking what we can (will) use, and then in using all the parts of the animal (or, in making sure that all the parts are used, even if we don't use them all personally). I also believe in conscientious eating--that is to say, I believe in being grateful not just to the Lord for providing the food, but also to the animal who gave his life for our sustenance. Ancient tribes would give verbal thanks to the animal when they killed it, and I think that is a tradition worth remembering.
While I have not been present for the actual deaths of the 27 sockeye (red) and 2 pink salmon that Hubby has brought home this summer, I have done some of the cleaning and most of the filleting. I have tried to treat each fish with respect. To observe their beauty, to cut them carefully and not waste any meat. The guts and heads and other parts we don't use we try to either throw into the river at the time they are caught, or use for bait or throw back to the river or sea later on. We smoke or freeze the meat with the skin on, but since we don't eat most of the skin (Wolf likes to eat it sometimes), we give that to our dog. As I said, we try to respect the animal, and to waste no part of the life he gave to us.
I asked Hubby to take some pictures of a particularly big and beautiful fish so that I could document this side of our lives.
Look how big this guy is! Wash him off (Hubby guts them on site when he catches them).
Isn't he beautiful? I mean, he's a fish, and yeah he's a little slimy, but the colors on their heads and backs are so beautiful.
Take off the head, right behind the first fin (cutting as close to the fin as possible, so as not to waste meat). I find it hard to make that first cut--probably because that eye is looking back at me. But taking off the head (pardon the expression) dehumanizes the fish enough that I can do the rest. It is HARD for me to slice these guys open. Hard to think that we took a life. Sure, I know this was a spawning salmon and that it would have died within another week or so anyway, but still, we're responsible for his death, however slight it was in it's prematurity. That responsibility keeps me determined to use every bit of the meat.
Two very fat salmon fillets. As I'm taking the meat off the bones I often end up with little bits that didn't slice nicely--little scraps and bits. (I had a lot of those bits at first, I don't make so many now.) I collect all those together as well, and when I have a couple of cups I chop them up and use them to make salmon burgers or quiche or something like that.
I took a life to sustain my own; I must not waste it.