A bowl full of fresh caplin. What more could you want?
I had two steaks ready to take from the fridge to have for supper on
Sunday when our neighbours came by with two five-gallon buckets of
caplin they'd just caught on Caplin Cove Beach, about a km away by
water. They used cast nets and pretty quickly got what they wanted and
headed back home across the Arm. They offered some and I took this
bowlful. I immediately set to work cleaning the fish. And an hour
later, the two of us ate half of them for supper; the other half I
froze in water for a later date.
I never used to clean caplin -- just wash them and cook them. They
are about eight inches (20 cm) long at the longest, and they don't
have much in the way of guts. This time of year they are often filled
with roe or milt. The females pretty well exhaust themselves on
beaches (this is why Caplin Cove is thus called), so in the water (in
contrast to on the beach) you get much higher proportions of males.
But of the, say, sixty fish here, two were females who had not yet
dumped their eggs. My father used to scoop or squeeze that roe out
onto his finger like butter and eat it, straight from the fish. I'm
not so adventurous. In fact, now I don't eat the heads and guts
either. I cut and washed all that away before cooking or freezing.
My recipe this time was very simple. I melted some butter on a sheet
of foil on a baking sheet on which I placed the caplin after they'd
been tossed in a bag with some panko crumbs and pepper. I drizzled a
little more melted butter over them -- just a few drops off a fork on
each one, and baked them for eight or ten minutes at 425 F. Then I
blasted them for a couple of minutes with the broiler to crisp them
up. The tails are especially delicious crisped up like that.
When I can get dried caplin, I still eat the heads and guts -- the
heads, like the tails, get a little crispy when dried. Mmmm.
The steaks waited another day to be cooked and eaten.
Four-years-expired Kodak Advantix APS 200 film in Nikon Pronea, with
the flash firing.