Monday, August 30, 2010

Thank You Sockeye

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.


Katie said...

Fish stock is fantastically nourishing, according to the Nourishing Traditions folks. Maybe you could make that with the heads/bones/carcasses?

ashley said...

I love that you posted about this. In my time in Alaska, I have definitely adopted this same way of approaching my food when I harvest it. Trying to get my parents from down south to understand this is quite hard though.

Miriam said...

I think it is great that you try not to take the life given for you for granted. If only everyone were that respectful.

If you find that Dave caught more fish than you can use, feel free to put them in my freezer when you come down ;-)

Mae said...

You should look into fish bone meal. (Or something like that...there's also bone and blood meal) It's used as a sustainable garden fertilizer. Then you could really use all the stuff that you don't eat instead of throwing it back into the ocean.

Mommy Bee said...

We have made fish stock before, and the truth is I think it's gross.

When we have our own land, and a garden in something more than a couple of pots, we may compost our fish--that's a very good idea. I had not thought of that.

Truly though, throwing them back into the water isn't just because they will decompose there--there are lots of little critters who joyfully eat those parts that we don't want. (Those critters being things like shrimp--one of several reasons why I don't like to eat shrimp!)

Carrie said...

I would love it if you would do a full tutorial on how to fillet a fish. I think that is valuable info to know.

Jessica said...

Hubby looked over my shoulder as I was reading your post and said it was making him hungry. :o) That really is a beautiful fish!

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