Monday, 4 April 2011

Dogfish preparation

A lot of shore anglers don't eat dogfish, which is a real pity. They chuck them back because they'd rather be catching some of the more highly regarded (and more scarce) fish such as plaice, black bream and so on. The trouble is that by chucking doggies, which are scavenging predators, back into the sea, you're helping to conserve them and allowing their swelling numbers to continue munching their way through the fish we'd all rather be catching...
A lot of anglers don't eat dogfish because their rough, sandpapery skin is tricky to remove, but hidden underneath is tasty meat commonly sold be fishmongers as huss or rock salmon. And the knack of skinning them is actually pretty easy once you've done a few.

To prepare a dogfish, begin by giving it several hard whacks across the head to ensure a swift death as soon as you beach it.
Next, you need to remove that skin, which is somewhat like peeling a very rough banana. It's best done on the beach rather than in the kitchen...
Use your heel to pin the fish's head to the ground and, using a very sharp knife, cut down into the skin at the top of the fish, just in front of the tail. Continue this cut along the length of the fish to remove a thin, shallow length of skin from tail to head, removing the dorsal fin as you go. Then turn the fish over and repeat along the underside, making a shallow cut from the tail and following the length of the fish, cutting deeper at the belly to remove the guts and underside fins as you go. Cut the whole lot away when you reach the head.
You have now removed flaps of the tough skin from the top and bottom on the fish - but the main areas of skin remain on the sides.
Now make cuts behind the gills to free the remaining side flaps of skin and, keeping your heel on the fish's head, use pliers to grip the end of each side flap of skin and pull firmly upwards to peel away towards the tail. With both flaps removed, you just need to cut off the head and tail and your dogfish meat is prepared.

The long, pink lenghs of meat look quite serpentine but make wonderful eating. Best of all, because dogfish are cartilaginous like other members of the shark family, they don't have any small pin-bones. The meat is of a firm texture, similar to monkfish, and holds up well on kebabs. Next time I'll share a very quick recipe to turn dogfish into a delicious meal.

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