Fresh Fish

Published: December 14th 2014
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There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason as to when the fishing boats come in with the fresh fish. Somehow I thought fish would be plentiful and readily available; however, fresh fish has been turning out to be more than elusive unless we get it already prepared at a restaurant. It's not carried in any of the markets so almost every day, we go by the dock, there's a small co-op building on the side of the sidewalk and we ask, "Any fish today?" The heavy set woman, who is not all that friendly, sitting out on the deck with an open empty freezer behind her tells us how the boat was there this morning before they opened, or how they had everything at 5 pm two days ago, but never anything while we are there and she can never give us any idea of when they are coming next. We've even tried hanging around on the dock for a while waiting, just in case some boats come in, and asking some of the people working in restaurants along the beach if they know when the fish comes in - but so far, nothing.

We doubt things will change but decide to stop by on a chance we'll get lucky. The heavy set woman is not there for the first time and we ask a man, "Any fish today?" "Yes," he replies and calls another man over from inside the building. This man, who doesn't seem all that happy to see us, leads us down a small sidwalk between some buildings past a sign that says 'Please Don't Urinate in This Area' past an overflowing garbage can and into a small building. In the first room, another man is gutting and butchering some kind of fish over a sink, he barely takes any notice of us. We go into the back room and he opens a freezer, there's only a few fish left, all Red Snapper. We opt for the smallest one, he weighs it - 2 lbs, we think it will be enough for both of us for dinner. He charges us $5 BZ. We grab a soaking wet bag from the sink of the first room, throw the dripping wet fish in the basket of our bike and head back to the condo.

Neither of us know how to cook a whole Red Snapper, sure we've eaten it but it has either come already filletted in packages in the store, or cooked for us in restaurants. After a few minutes of research on the computer, we decide to roast it. Now for the fun part, we have to de-scale it. We watch a video on you tube and the chef makes it look pretty easy using the back of the knife. I try it, scraping as hard as I can but totally give up not being able to remove even a single scale. Then Ian takes over and he sure means business. Scales are flying everywhere all around the kitchen, they are huge, about the size of your fingernails, shooting all over the place. What a mess! After about 10 minutes, Ian has the whole thing de-scaled. I rinse the fish and pat it dry, make a few slits on either side, the rub all over with a paste made from fresh ginger, garlic, oil, thyme, salt & pepper being careful to get the seasoning into the slits. I stand it up in the roasting pan spreading it open and bake it for about half an hour. It turns out really good, very tasty, well cooked, and we eat the whole thing. Finally able to say we had fresh fish all our own in Belize. I clean up the best I can but I'm sure I will sure be dealing with more of the scale mess in the morning and wondering if it was really worth all the trouble.


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