barracuda has a nasty temper, and a nasty reputation among divers.
The typical barracuda we see in the market here in Corozal is about
14-15 inches long, but they grow a lot longer, and the big ones are really
scary looking. The fish is long, and skinny, with a pointed snout and a
couple or three teeth right in the end of the snout.
You can imagine one clamping on to your hand and shaking until... ooh,
yuk, don't think about it.
NOTE: (new) My friend Margaret was aghast to think that we would eat barracuda. "People have died from eating barricuda!" says she. I checked it out on the 'web and sure enuf, people have died. However, they are eating BIG barracuda, who feed on some poisoned fish and become poisoned themselves. Everybody eats Barracuda here in Belize -- small ones, I note -- and nobody dies. I will let you know if one kills me.
meat is clear, white, and reasonably firm.
It is excellent prepared in Civiche, or fried.
It is moderately priced, and I tend to think of it as the scrod (catch
of the day) for Belize, although it is not as firm and nice as Cod or Atlantic
Whitefish. It is cheaper, usually
3 dollah a pound ($1.50 US) "on the hoof" and I pay Rudolph a dollah
to filet one for me.
filets barracuda for me nicely. If it's a small one, he does a "skin fillet" which
has the scaled skin on one side. The
skin is noticeable but innocuous. If
the fish is larger, I get clear fillets.
I try to eat them soon after we take them home.
use bread crumbs. These are left
over from the baking process, and you can get them in a rough form, or you can
get those that have been ground into powder in a blender.
The flavor and effect are different for each, but you prepare them the
same. In the States, you
can also buy bread crumbs or cracker crumbs, and follow these directions with
the way you cook any nice filet, like barracuda or scrod or whatever.
This also works with oysters or fried clams (which we can't get in
up an egg wash in a shallow dish.
the egg with a fork and add the milk.
the bread crumbs. I usually use
Old Bay, which has lots of pepper in it. Alternately, you can use Lowry's Season Salt or McCormick
SeasonAll, and a good bit of Black Pepper.
the fish in the bread crumbs. Turn
the fish once, or maybe twice, to thoroughly coat it.
(You could do this with flour, or maybe powdered milk, but it isn't
worth the effort (you dirty
another dish.) Dip the fish in
the egg wash and turn. Put it
back in the bread crumbs. Really
press the fish down, after you turn it over, and turn it a couple of times,
until your fingerprints don't show on the fish.
the pieces of fish out on a cutting board or something and let them sit for a
few minutes to set the breading.
they are setting, heat up some oil. You
need about a half inch of oil in a flat pan.
You don't need to deep fry fish - in fact, you will probably over cook
them if you use a lot of oil. Over
a medium heat, heat the oil until it just starts to smoke, put in the fish
until they are a dark golden brown. Alternately,
you can cook them on a hot grill, but it should be well oiled.
You can also put a pot lid over the grill to insure that the fish is
cooked. The character of grill-fried fish is distinctly different from
pan-fried, but I like them both. In
no case does cooking take more than four minutes per piece.
we generally serve them with sections of lime, because limes are 8 or 10 for a
dollah. Of course, you can use
Tartar Sauce or elegant mayonnaises, but the fish is the thing, and it's
If you read about Barracuda on the Net, you will find that they're
poison. Well, I've been eating them here for three years (and Manny and
David for 30 years) and we're not dead yet. I think the barracuda up in
the Florida keys are infected, but I'm not worried about them down here.
Of course -- I could be dead tomorrow. <grin>