How NOT to Clean Seafood

A few months ago, I was watching a cooking show on tv (I know – shocking, right?) and saw a rather famous tv chef (whose name starts with Jamie and ends with Oliver) cook up some sardines. He made it sound so super easy, and it looked amazing – so I filed it into my head under “things to try at some point”. Anyway, I was at the shops and I saw a bag of frozen sardines. Filled with enthusiasm, I convinced my mom to split a bag with me. I told her all about the ease with which these fish were cooked – that all you had to do was brush them with olive oil and then into the oven for about twenty minutes.
Anyway, I got them home and put them in the freezer. A few days later, as I was planning my menu, I suddenly thought… are those fish cleaned? Now, you need to realize that I don’t generally buy seafood. My husband is not a fan of shellfish, and I’m not very good at cooking fish. Or at eating fish. In fact, since I’ve been married, I’ve only cooked fish twice, not including a couple of salmon pastas. So the thought of checking to see if the fish was cleaned didn’t cross my mind when I bought them. I know, silly, right?
So, the first thing I did, was Google the problem. I didn’t feel like watching YouTube videos, so I read lots of descriptions on the net, and felt fairly confident about what I was doing. Again – bear in mind that I have never seen a fish being cleaned. I had NO idea of what to expect. I’ve never even dissected a frog.

Full of confidence, I sharpened my knife that evening, after having the fish defrosting in the fridge the whole day (interesting tip – if you defrost them in a bowl of milk, that super fishy smell doesn’t go into your fridge), I attacked the project. Needless to say – it was disgusting. And the instructions didn’t make much sense when I had the fish in front of me. It was all things like – cut along the bottom of the fish, grab the head and pull it and all the guts will come out with it. That did not happen. Not at ALL. My cats were extremely interested in the delectable (to them) smell that was invading my house – I had fish guts and fish blood all over my hands – it was the middle of winter so I was cold as well – I was not a happy girl. Then, when I had finally managed to get five or six clean, my dear darling hubby asks me “were they scaled?” At this point I figured out what the weird plastic things all over my hands were. I swear I almost burst into tears! Into the sink they went – again – and I attacked them with my scourer. (FYI – that scourer got thrown away that night!) I got most of the scales off, finished cleaning them, and got them into the oven. By this point it was after 8pm, and my husband had already attacked a bag of chips as well as some crackers – and I was fighting back tears. When they came out, my husband assured me that they tasted lovely (the bits that were left… they weren’t exactly the most intact pieces of fish!), and having to take all the little bones out meant that he ate nice and slowly. I wouldn’t know. I felt so sick from the smell and sight of fish guts that I managed about half of one fish and didn’t eat anything else that night.

So what’s the moral of the story? If you’re learning how to do something new, watch a YouTube video. You’ll be happier for it.

How do I know this? Well, I was at a shop about a month ago, and I saw that they had a new seafood section. And in that section, they had soft-shell crabs. These guys stuck in my mind so that it was all I could think of. As I mentioned above, my husband is not a shellfish fan – however, my mom is. So the next time that my man had to work on a weekend, I asked my mom to come over and share an experiment with me. She agreed (bravely!) and I set about the task of finding out how to cook the things. That’s when I realised that I would have to clean them. Oh dear. Oh my goodness. My psyche just took a running jump off a very tall building, and all I could hear was its scream fading into the distance.

This time I was smart. I Googled it – AND watched the YouTube videos. Lots of them. At work – ha ha – my boss was very confused over why I chose to spend my lunch time watching shell-fish being mutilated. But this time I was more confident and was able to clean and cook the little critters with surprisingly little fuss – and with my appetite still intact at the end of it. If you want to know how to – let me know – and I’ll do a recipe post on it in the future. I would suggest that you all go out, find some of the tasty little suckers – Google and YouTube how to clean and cook them – then go forth and cook! Truly. They are that good.

Am I the only one who is apparently that bad at cleaning seafood? I hope not!
Have a great weekend!



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