A scream of stark terror pierced the night.
“What happened!?” Toshi San was quick to ask.
I tried to forget the memory of the cold, slimy form wriggling between my toes.
You don’t expect to step on a flying fish in the hallway to your cabin. The hatch hadn’t been open more than a crack, but somehow the creature had found its way in. They were everywhere.
Like gifts from the sea gods, heaps of flying fish graced our trampoline and deck every morning. We had so many, Sato San started noting how many fish we’d gotten on the daily log. Each line had date, Position, how many miles we had left of the total, position, temperature, and number of flying fish noted.
On every other yacht I’d sailed flying fish were thrown over the side. The ones who crashed harder were cursed for smearing the deck with their scales (a nightmare to scrub off once you were in port). Umineko was different. Once, I threw one over the side and Sato San gasped in horror. We can eat those!
I had never even considered it, but he explained to me he really wanted flying fish for breakfast the next day. Yup, you heard right. Breakfast. Sure, fish for breakfast may sound strange to Westerners. I was certainly surprised. But I am almost always up for trying new things. After all, why crew on a Japanese boat if you don’t want to expand your culinary expertise and horizons?
And there it was. Flying fish were on the menu. But making one type of fish dish is boring. I had to diversify. Soon it became a challenge. What different types of flying fish could I make?
After about a week of flying fish for breakfast Sato San was still gung-ho about the whole thing, but other crew members (whom shall remain nameless) were pleading for a Western breakfast. Flying fish are quite tasty prepared the right way, but no matter how many variations you make no matter how hard you try they don’t do very well in American-style pancakes.
You cruisers may have never thought about frying up your flying fish, but I highly recommend it. Fish you don’t even have to hook? Why not? The Umineko boys were all about the bigger the fish the better. I have a different take on things. The small ones take less work. Like a lot less.
When a flying fish gets to a certain size they grow scales and you can’t eat the bones. I’m not a huge fan of or expert at descaling and filleting fish. It’s even more annoying when there are a ton of flying fish to clean. But the captain liked them. I got pretty skilled at it, though I still was much happier when the little ones offered themselves up for our breakfast.
As they are a bit of a chore to clean maybe not cooking them every day they appear on the deck, but I definitely recommend giving them a try once or twice. As I mentioned, I tried quite a few takes on flying fish, but this was one of my favorite recipes.
Fair Winds Flying Fish Donburi
- Rice, cooked
- Pickled veggies (we use pickled daikon(takuan), kimchee, and whatever other pickles we have)
- Flying fish, cleaned
- 2 T butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 T soy sauce
- 1 T mirin (you can substitute 1 T water and 2 t sugar)