Fish (with lemon)

NOT A MEAL PREP FOR THE FAINT OF HEART

What the proverbial ‘They’ never tell you about the healthy protein and fats you can get from fish is that seafood will DRAIN your bank account. So, if you, by some miracle, have access to a rod, some bait, and ocean water, you can catch dinner on the cheap. However, ‘They’ (these nameless bastards) fail to mention that cheap seafood requires you to adopt a stomach of steel and an affinity for, well, the murder of amphibians.

I have the opportunity to become an intrepid fish killer every summer on my annual trip to the coast of Maine with my boyfriend and, let me tell you, our fish NEVER die in vain (except Bert….His demise was an unfortunate accident in a story that is best told by Hunt for Hunter.) They turn into delectable, healthy meals straight from the saltwater to the oven in our Maine cottage.

This past summer was especially special because we found a pocket of water that held a ton of fish we had never caught before – Stripers. These small mouthed bass always eluded us, but somehow this year we were able to pull them out of the water one right after the other, befuddled by our luck and amazed at their size. I had only before caught smaller Pollock and one Cunner, so a Striper was a new kind of accomplishment. The ocean gods had definitely decided to be kind to us this time around.

Despite the silence of the proverbial ‘They,’ we managed to figure out that the most humane way to kill a fish is to stun it, then bleed it out over a shallow pool of water. I took no enjoyment from this, but I strongly believe it is important to acknowledge where your food comes from (and I know EXACTLY from where these guys originated.) On our first day, we took four Stripers back to the cottage. We froze three and made one of the bigger ones into the best, most simple, healthiest meal you could hope to make on vacation.

Obviously, if you do not have access to a large, clean body of saltwater, a storebought whole fish will do just fine. Here’s what we did:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degreees.

  • Take 1 2.5lb fish and (if it hasn’t been already) descale, then slice open the belly and remove all organs. Wash thoroughly.

  • Salt the inside of the fish. Stuff it with fresh garlic cloves, fresh parsley, olive oil, and lemon.

  • Stick it in the oven to bake for 20-30 minutes (depending on the size of the fish.)

  • Halfway through cook time, flip over the fish and layer it with lemon sliices.

  • Serve whole with fresh corn and savory biscuits.

Cooking the fish this way maximizes the good stuff you body gets and tastes AMAZING. The recommended amount of fish per person is about 1lb, so get to the nearest ocean! (…or fish market. That works too.)

Meg Hopkinsmealprep, fish