Monday, February 28, 2011

Barbecued Bonito Fillet with Tomato, Fennel & Capers

The Australian Bonito (also called Bonny, Common Bonito, Horse Mackerel, Horsie, Little Bonito, Skipjack, or Striped Bonito)  is a fast surface feeding fish with the ability to fight hard. You'll find Bonito on coastal reefs and estuaries from southern and central Queensland to about Wilsons Promontory in Victoria, with a similar sub-tropical to temperate distribution along the Western Austgralian coast.

If you've got a boat, try trolling diving lures parallel with the shoreline, close to headlands and rock ledges. Land-based fishermen should try casting and retrieving lures from the ocean rocks, jetties and breakwalls.

Bonito will also go after pilchards and garfish rigged on ganged hooks, as well as liveand strip baits or cubes.

For many years, many fishermen considered that Australian Bonito was fit only for bait or berley but in fact bonito flesh is actually quite tasty.  Some have suggeted that the prejudices concerning these fish could stem from fishermen confusing them with the less palatable skipjack.  Bonito much better to eat if the fish is bled immediately after capture an of course, if eaten fresh rather than frozen.

If you have any doubts about the eating quality of Australian Bonito, you won't once you've tried this recipe courtesy of the Sydney Fish Market.

Serves 4
1 x 800g Bonito fillet, skin on (see notes)
2 teaspoons chopped thyme leaves
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
Salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 golden shallot, finely sliced
1 small red chill, seeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon salted capers, rinsed and dried
1 bulb baby fennel, diced
3 small tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
½ lemon


Cut the fillet in half lengthways, following the line of bones down the centre, cut away the bones, trim and discard any dark meat. Cut the pieces in half. Place on a plate, sprinkle with thyme, lemon zest, salt and pepper, drizzle with half the olive oil and turn well to coat. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook.

Heat a barbecue or char-grill plate.

Meanwhile, heat remaining olive oil in a frying pan, add garlic, shallot, chilli, salt and pepper and fry until the shallot is translucent. Add the capers and fennel and cook until the fennel has softened slightly. Stir in the tomatoes, parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice and remove from the heat.

Place the fish skin-side down on the BBQ or char-grill and cook for 2-4 minutes, until the skin is very crisp, then turn and cook the other side for a further minute or 2, until flesh flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Arrange fish on plates and spoon sauce over the top.

Notes: Bonito can be served rare in the centre, if using sashimi-grade fish.

Alternative Species: Albacore, Atlantic Salmon, Mackerel, Marlin, Swordfish, Tuna.

Recipe and Pics courtesy of the Sydney Fish Market

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