Wednesday, April 21, 2010

SSK: stinky, smelly knitting

My kingdom for a lemon. I am pretty sure I should not be knitting on this sock I'd like to finish up, but I wonder if I will have a problem with my keyboard as well? My children have seen something new today and I have learned a skill I swore I would never need to gutting.

I picked up a couple of lovely fish while shopping today, along with some Guerande sea salt; the brown, sticky kind I can't find at home. As I was contemplating tonight's dinner, I suddenly turned to my husband with a worry; "Honey, if you buy fish at the grocery store here, do they clean it before they sell it?" My fish were all wrapped up and even sealed in a special fish bag, which was new to France. I only ever bought fish from my fish monger at the market, who knew better than to give me fish with innards, or later from the mother of a fisherman who sold the entire morning's catch before 10am each day in our little sea side town. She very kindly cleaned it for me as well. Ever since that fateful night, about fifteen years ago, when I began to prepare dinner and my husband was called away to fix someone's computer, I always remembered to ask for pre-cleaned fish and headless poultry. That was the night that I ran, panicked, to the neighbor's apartment, with my fish and all its parts, having tried unsuccessfully to stick a knife into it to get them out. My neighbors and husband, never let me live it down. I solved that little dilemma by always making sure it was done before bringing it home. Pierre was sure there must be some sort of law about fish being sold in grocery stores without its insides, and besides, he had work to do. I filled the casserole dish with salt, took the fish out of its two bags and braced myself. They were just as beautiful as I remembered, bright eyes, plump flesh with nary a slit, rip or rent. Oh boy.

I grabbed a knife and held my first victim over the garbage can. As I cut and cleaned, Aragorn clamored for a turn. When he realized that this was tonight's dinner, he got excited, revolted and called in all the others to see. They all watched in fascinated revulsion, then took turns covering them up in sea salt. Dinner will be delicious, accompanied by a little Riesling white wine I bought for $3.60, steamed rice and fried tomatoes. Cheese and bread, then fruit for dessert should be perfect.

Now to get my hands de-fished!

The recipe for the fish, a dorade royale or grise, translated by different sources into different things; sea bream being the one that came up most frequently. I'll try to get a picture of a fresh one in the next couple of days.

1) Clean the fish, rinse with cool water.
2) Line a dish with coarse Guerande sea salt or closest equivalent, place fish on top, cover with more sea salt.
3) Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350.
4) The salt will form a crust that peels off; peel and eat.
Bon appetit!


  1. I'm following your trip from Florida. I'm glad you all arrived safely. What an adventure! Will you go to Carcassone? Enjoy the relatives!

  2. Hi Amy!

    Thanks for writing, how are those four adorable kids?

    We really want to take the kids to Carcassone. It's one of my favorites. We had also planned on visiting the Chateaux of the Loire and Bordeaux. We shall see. Our budget was seriously challenged with the extras in London, Paris and in between. I just found out today that when Pierre took back the $180 per day rental car, we paid $400, apparently for the "extra miles." I guess we're just lucky they did not charge per passenger or per bag, like a hotel or a taxi, lol!

    Life remains very sunny, all is well, hope it is with you too.


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