Freshwater fishing has been one of our family traditions way before my birth. Perhaps it was because our entire clan lived near a lake, but it could also be because it was a great pastime for people of all ages. And after a great fishing event, we eat whatever we catch and spend the rest evening laughing, talking, and singing.
The thing is, I am one of those relatives whom you can only depend on when it comes to washing the dishes. Sometimes, I host family games or prepare the table or look after the young cousins while their moms and dads make the foods. Never have I ever been asked to cook with the adults.
But when I came back home after being away from a couple of years due to work, I volunteered to cook all the fish that my family caught on Sunday. Everyone was too kind to discourage me or say no, though it was evident how hesitant they were to pass the pots and pans and knives.
I found their reaction hilarious and understandable, considering they had never seen my work in the kitchen. Despite that, I learned a thing or two about cooking when I was away. It’s just that I did not try creating any dish with fish as the main ingredient before, so I still had to look for different ways to cook fish for the family for the first time.
Below are a few things I tried.
The first method I used was pan-frying. I believe that it is the easiest way of cooking fish, considering you only need oil and the actual fish. It is also unnecessary to chop it into pieces—as long as the innards are gone, that should be okay. The technique works for any kind of fish that you want to have a crispy outer layer.
When I pan-fried catfish, I merely covered it in salt and pepper and made two diagonal slices on either side before dropping the fish in the pan. I used a non-stick skillet to ensure that the skin would crisp up and not stick to the pan. It seemed like a perfect decision since my family ate their fish right down to the fins with gusto.
Since the little ones in the family always had McDonald’s or pasta due to their aversion to the fishy taste of fish, I thought of how I could mask that a bit. Then, I remembered how much they liked fried chicken and French fries, which were both deep-fried. Hence, after coating some fillets with batter, I did the same thing.
How did the kids receive it, you might ask? I must say that they took a small bite at first, but when they crispy batter hit their taste buds, they wanted more of the deep-fried fish. My cousins liked it so much that some even asked for second helpings. Luckily, I made more than enough for the family, so the adults didn’t need to give up their share.
Another idea I tried was foil baking. I have always seen my parents do it, but they tend to bring a gas-powered table oven on every fishing trip. For my version, though, I placed the foil-wrapped fish in the campfire and allowed it to cook for less than an hour.
In truth, Mom wanted to stop me from doing it because the regular fire is indeed uncontrollable. I knew that; that’s why I watched the baking process closely and even took the fish out a few times. And to everyone’s astonishment, it tasted better than oven-baked fish because it had a natural smokey flavor.
My folks kept asking me ever since I returned home about what kind of exotic foods I had in Peru, where I stayed at for some time while away for work. They were particularly curious about ceviche, so I recreated it, too. I sliced some trout fillet into mini squares, mixed it with salt, pepper, onion, and lemon juice, and served it raw.
Though the dish was every bit unconventional in my family’s book, they were willing to try it. Again. And again. And again. In other words, they ended up loving ceviche.
The first time I cooked fish for my parents had been a blast. I was in front of the campfire and smelling like fish all afternoon, but seeing my loved ones enjoy every dish made it worth the effort. I had always dreamed of preparing delicious meals for them, and it finally happened.
Would I be cooking fish anytime soon? Yes, of course. I am thinking of making sweet and sour fish, smoked trout omelet, fishcakes, etc. What’s even better is that the other family members who have never cooked before are volunteering to do it on our next get-together. Hence, we may be able to add cooking fish in our list of family traditions, just like fishing. Isn’t that cool?
When the coronavirus hit the world, it hit the wet markets hard too. They were abruptly closed due to strict social distancing measures that were implemented to stop further spread of the virus. Electronic or online selling was among the biggest saviors of those who lost their livelihoods from the market shutdowns. The fishermen and farmers were forced to learn how to go about in the world of E-commerce, as they learned to reach out to the consumers through the web and showcase their products and services.
The Movement Control Order implemented in the country of Malaysia is still in place up until today. Because of this, Steve Teoh, owner of the Deoness Plantation in Kuala Lumpur, is selling his flowers and corn online. He said he had to do something rather than just throwing his harvests when the demand abruptly declined, and flower shops, including all other shops, were instructed to shut down. It was Lazada, the popular digital platform based in Singapore, which helped Mr. Teoh and connected him to someone through the web who was willing to provide him with a customer base.
Additionally, Lazada also aided other farmers who were confronted with the same issues in Malaysia, with boxes of fresh vegetables and fruits that they failed to sell the conventional way. When the lockdowns were enforced, a whopping 1.5 tons of fruits and vegetables were successfully sold online. Mr. Teoh could not imagine what would happen to his beautiful flowers if he had not been introduced to Lazada.
My Fishman, a seafood store and delivery service in Malaysia, also experienced the same ordeal as Mr. Teoh. Audrey Goo, the company owner, recalls being depressed over the fact that she could no longer sell her fish at the wet markets, and she had no other livelihood but selling fish. That was long before she was introduced to these online platforms. “I was anxious about where to sell all the fish that I couldn’t sell to restaurants, supermarkets, and fish markets, but when I started selling online, I was just as busy as when I was selling in the brick-and-mortar store.”
These two businesses increased their sales to 150% within the first two weeks of the COVID-19 lockdowns, which was expected, as people were stocking up on food to prepare themselves for what might come next. For five months, fish and other fresh produce have doubled their sales in South East Asia. Indeed, businesses in almost all industries, even those in farming, are transforming online to adapt to the times and to seize new opportunities that have emerged from the effects of the global crisis.
Times Of Hardships And Challenges
Rumah Sayur Group, a farming cooperative in Indonesia, has tried its luck in online business to help thousands of their farmers from almost 90 villages to be able to sell their fresh produce. They formerly sold their products in hotels, cafes, restaurants, and supermarkets in Jakarta. This stopped when the pandemic happened, dropping their sales to over 60%. That was when they decided to join the bandwagon.
Pak Opik, an Indonesian farmer, sells unique vegetables like Japanese cucumbers and purple cabbages in the outside markets of Jakarta and Bandung. The present global health crisis has been quite challenging for all farmers, as they have been accustomed to selling their products through these traditional means. But the Sayur Group and its partnership with e-commerce, their harvests have reached consumers throughout the whole country, particularly during the present circumstances where people are having difficulty going to the market the way they did before the pandemic.
In Thailand, on the other hand, Lazada has also been working with their government to aid local farmers who usually export their fruits and find new customers in the local regions. Lazada made selling online possible by signing up approximately 50 fruit vendors during the fruit month campaign that happened just this month.
China’s giant e-commerce platform, Alibaba, launched the Taobao Live platform to introduce farmers and help them showcase their products through its Foodie Live stream channel, which has been connecting farmers all over China with its more than 40 million followers. The firm executives say that in the first three days of live streaming, 15 million products were sold.
The rise of the coronavirus pandemic has tremendously impacted commercial fishing. France’s quarantine guidelines, including the closure of bars and restaurants, implemented to prevent further spread of the infection have forced fishing ships to stop business and stay in port. In the country of Croatia, hundreds of fishing boats remained docked, and 80% of the white fish left unsold. Fishermen in Greece have been unable to sell their fish to the market because the borders have been closed. These are all true data gathered via satellite and other forms of observations. China and West Africa are not spared as well, with over 80% loss in their fishing business since the pandemic.
The worldwide drop in the fishing industry is not good news at all for anyone who earns from the sea, and fishermen all over the world are undeniably suffer. On the other hand, for those fish populations that are struggling – and the experts striving to help them recover – this unforeseen fishing slowdown has presented an opportunity. Somehow, this could eventually lead to a more sustainable means to navigate the oceans when the pandemic subsides.
Slowdowns In The Past
A few decades ago, several trends caused the slowdown of the world’s fish industry. Science published a study last 2019 showing decreasing fish stocks by more than 30% due to climate change. Additionally, there were cases of overfishing, which resulted in a reduced supply of sought-after types of fish, like Mediterranean swordfish and Bluefin tuna, by approximately 90%. As per the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization statistics, fishing boats go out to the sea and dock with only very few fish while consumption goes up yearly.
In the past, a lot of experts called for suspensions on specific types of fish, so their numbers will recover. This was a plea of one of the professors at the University of British Columbia, Mr. Daniel Pauly, who was an advocate for global moratoriums on high seas fishing. He said that suspending the catching of fish that were in deficient numbers would result in more affordable fishing, which makes sense.
The spread of the coronavirus infection has obligated such a pause upon the whole world. So what happens after? How will this pause affect the fish populations? A stoppage that lasts for a few months won’t have very much impact on the long-term. However, if the need for fish plunged due to a greater recession, then definitely operations could be slow to start and slow to recover. A stoppage of almost a year would probably enable those fish that are declining due to high demand to grow in number; thus, supply and demand will be equal.
Where It’s Going
In the months that commercial fishing has declined because of the pandemic, changes have been seen in fish behavior. Scientists have claimed that due to the decline in fishing boats, the smaller types of fish are visible on the ocean surface, while predators have become more active. The tuna fish, which formerly travels through the China Sea and into the Japanese fishing areas, are now seen to make a stop in the China Sea to feed.
Most of the large commercial fishing boats have docked for a month, according to people who monitor fishing activities through satellite. Chinese fishing activity typically slows down during the Chinese New Year, in January or February. This year, that decline has coincided with the COVID-19 outbreak. Unfortunately, after February, no activity has been seen yet. Reportedly, Chinese commercial fishermen are down by a million hours in fishing activity, although lately, little activity has been visible.
When this global pandemic soon subsides and disappears, there might be dangers of overfishing when fishers crowd the seas eager to go back to their livelihoods. Large fleets will take advantage of their size and dominate the seas, catching more fish and freezing them while they stay out at sea. Patrols and other organizations must be keen on stopping this. Big and small-time fishers must be equally gifted with the blessing of being able to fish again soon.
Attending the 2018 fishing event with my family is one of the best experiences I had. Since I love outdoors, I find it amusing to go on fishing as well. That is why I get excited knowing that there are so many benefits that I can get from fishing activity. But for me, the specific things I love about it are the following:
Conservation – Aside from fishing’s social bonding capabilities, it also helps in preservation. That is because many anglers value the significance of preserving the environment and the marine’s valuable habitat. That is why most fishers contribute to the wildlife programs that protect natural resources.
Stress Relief – Spending time outdoors and bobber fishing on a pond relieve stress. That is one of the mental health benefits of the activity. It allows mindfulness that connects you with nature. It reminds you that there are many beautiful things around you that you should be thankful for. It makes you appreciate every little living thing and how it contributes to life.
Recreation – Others think that fishing is a tedious activity. But contrary, fishing is fun. Not only it boosts your excitement level, but it also gives you a sense of fulfillment in doing something out of the ordinary. Aside from that, it is also a fun way of mental exercise where you practice focus and patience.
Enhanced Lifestyle – Fishing encourages a healthier way of life. Instead of eating unhealthy food, fishing allows you to be health-conscious. It helps you to become more aware of what you put in your body. It will make you prefer fresh meat instead of purchasing the ones in stores.
Well, some people may not see the benefits as others do. But for those who love the activity, they find it one of the best things to do.
We can catch fish in several ways. We can use our hands, or we can shoot a spear through it. We can also trap it in a net, use a hook and bait, or throw dynamite to the sea or lake, although this is not recommended. Fishing has been a livelihood and a way of life for thousands of years, which is why people had so much time inventing different ways to catch fish.
Just like dancing, there has been a lot of debate about whether fishing is a hobby or a sport. Some people strongly disagree that fishing can even be considered a sport, simply because they say that anybody can do it.
Fishing is hardly known as a young person’s hobby. For one, it does not require a lot of movement. You need to swing the rod back and throw it forward, and that can take some force, yes. But once the line is already in the water, you can even prop the fishing rod on a chair and leave it there. If you are in the saltwater, there may be a chance for you to exert energy as you can get big fish there. However, in case you are fishing in the lake or river, you may not even grunt when you pull the fish out with your rod.
Despite that, fishing still comes with a few dangers that not everyone may realize until an accident happens. To avoid that, here are safety tips that you can’t forget.
Be Mindful Of The Hook
The hook is attached at the end of the line along with the bait. The typical idea is that you should connect the latter to the former. When the fish eats the bait, therefore, it will get caught on the hook.
When you are attaching the hook or removing the fish from it, though, you should be mindful of its pointy part. I have seen several newbies nick, slash, and even stab themselves with a hook accidentally. While it is small, it is incredibly sharp – enough to pierce through a fish’s mouth and your skin.
Learn How To Swing The Rod Properly
As mentioned above, fishing involves swinging the rod backward and forward. This will ensure that the line can reach a specific distance. After all, you cannot simply drop it beside the boat. It has to be far away so that the bait will be more believable for the fish.
However, you need to learn the proper way of swinging the fishing rod. It is not like a rope in the rodeo or a ribbon that gymnasts twirl. Remember that a hook is at the end of the line. If it hits you or anyone on the boat, it will be disastrous.
Use Nets Neatly
Considering you have graduated from freshwater to saltwater fishing, there may be a time when you will use nets. That is especially true if you want to catch more than a bucket of fish. Your beloved rod will be useless at that point because it will slow down the process.
The thing is, a lot of unfortunate things can happen if your nets are all over the place. For instance, you may trip on it. How lucky you will be if you fall safely on the net. However, what if your face hits the side of the boat or you tip over?
A lot of people go fishing to calm their minds or get away from the city. It seems ideal and all, but you should ensure your safety first. Understand how every part of the fishing rod works, be careful if you want to use nets, and never go by yourself. This way, there is someone to watch out for you and vice versa.
Fishing is one of my family’s favorite pastimes. For as long as I can remember, my parents would set aside an entire week during my summer break from school for that. We would rent a cabin by the river or lake and pack our bags and canoes. Sometimes, we would sleep in tents or even camping cars.
During that week, chicken, pork, or beef was at the back of our minds. My mom knew a lot of recipes that involved fish as the main ingredient. Everything from stew to soup to grilled – we enjoyed them all, especially since the fish was always fresh. It was something that we could not enough of, frankly speaking.
My family still does this tradition every year, even when I am already in my mid-20s. I don’t usually take a leave of absence because I allocate those days to that fishing week. What is even better is that my cousins, aunts, and uncles come with us, so it is like a week-long reunion.
The thing is, I know that fishing is not for everyone. To be precise, it is not suitable for the faint of heart because:
You Will Be Dealing With A Wiggly Fish
The first thing that irks some people is the truth that the fish will fight back when you try to take it out of the water. Its body will wiggle from the moment you pull the line, making the task challenging. Even when it is on the boat already, it may not be easy to hold because the fish scales are too smooth. Thus, newbies tend to yell or jump in surprise when the fish slips out of their hands.
You Have To Remove The Hook From The Fish’s Mouth
It is an exciting sight when a fisherman raises his rod, and a hefty fish is at the end of it. What non-fishing folks may not realize, however, is that the hook pierces the mouth of the fish. The latter does not bleed a lot in that area, but it can be too much for a few individuals.
You Need To Open The Fish And Pull Out Its Guts
A movie or TV show where people are fishing and camping can be a bit misleading, in the sense that they only show the fish on the grill after catching it. What you have hardly seen in media is the process of removing the guts. After all, it requires slicing the fish’s belly and pulling out everything inside except for the bones. This procedure is necessary, though, to make sure that you will eat clean fish. The guts tend to go back to the water and serve as fish food.
If you find the de-gutting process gory or barbaric, though, fishing may not be for you.
The Fish Smell Won’t Go Away With Water And Regular Soap
You do not hear fishing enthusiasts complain about the smell that lingers on their hands, but it is not a myth. Fish odor can genuinely stick to your skin, especially while cleaning the fish because it releases chemicals that give off the universally known fishy smell. What’s worse is that the scent does not go away with water and regular soap alone, so forgetting the special detergent during your trip entails that the stink will remain with you until you go home.
I decided to write this blog not to discourage you from learning how to fish but to keep you from quitting when you see or experience the things mentioned above. When you know what to expect beforehand, and you still go for it, it means that the hobby will stick for long.
Visiting Phuket, Thailand won’t be complete without having a taste of their seafood extravaganza. The island is not only known for its beautiful beaches but also for the rich marine life that has tourists and locals appreciate seafood more and eating the likes of giant prawns, crabs, and sweet shrimps should never be missed while you’re in this colorful island. (more…)