Fish heads and too-tight bikinis

The Nutty Professor (1996 film)
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Good Morning Scale! After 2 days on my I LOVE FOOD “diet” I am happy to report that my trusty old scale had some good news for me. Although I did not lose numerous pounds, I did get back to the weight I was pre-Margarita madness night (see earlier post for explanation).

Breakfast was the usual,  2 fried eggs and bacon. Lunch was leftovers from the night before (pan seared scallops and sautéed broccoli rabe with garlic and oil). Then it was time to hit the beach.

Now nothing and I mean NOTHING can get you more in fighting shape than a wearing a too-tight bikini. There is no getting around it….everything is out there for the world to see. As we were spending the weekend in the Hamptons and I have 2 very rambunctious energetic boys bouncing off the walls of the house, the only logical thing to do is head for the hills – or in this case for the dunes. The surf was unusually rough yesterday so being the very neurotic mother that I am, I was forced to hover (in my too tight bikini) along the edge of the surf as my boys frolicked in the waves. It seems that young children in general have very thick skin. It is the only explanation I can come up with as they seem to have no idea as to the frigidness of the Atlantic Ocean. While any other normal person would cautiously dip a toe in the water and shriek back in frozen horror, my boys were acting like they were a bunch of polar bears jumping head first into the freezing surf. 

Now as they continued to bob and squeal in the waves for what seemed like hours on end, I was getting slightly light-headed from holding my stomach in so that my not too-tiny-tummy wouldn’t come bulging out. I felt like Eddie Murphy’s  character from the 1996 movie,  “The Nutty  Professor”.  When Sherman Klump, the morbidly obese professor, consumes some disturbing glowing liquid his body reacts in a very usual way, bulging and morphing at the most inopportune times. That’s how I felt yesterday after holding in my gutt while standing along the water’s edge guarding  my kids. I did not want to scare the other beach goers with my sudden morphing of tummy size so I kept “sucking it in”.

So many of you might ask, “Why doesn’t she just buy a bigger bathing suit?” Well I recall reading in an article about bathing suit “do’s and don’ts”, that wearing a smaller bikini bottom can visually “trick the eye” of the viewer into thinking that that persons butt is smaller than it actually is. This article claims that a larger bikini bottom that fully covers both cheeks can in fact make one’s butt look larger than it actually it. Its something having to do with seeing all that fabric stretching across one’s rear-end whereas, if you are sporting a teeny weenie bikini, all the eye sees is your fat and skin all melding together.

Now usually I have my husband around to help me “man the shores”, however yesterday he went fishing with a bunch of buddies out in Montauk. Now, I love Montauk. It truly is to me what a beach town should be, sun, sand, surf, unpretentious and “beachy”. However there is one MAJOR problem with Montauk and that is that it is literally at the END of Long Island. With the local Hamptons traffic, it took my husband almost 2 hours to get to the boat FROM our house in the neighboring Hamptons!

However, it was all worth the drive as he proudly came home bearing over 5 lbs of the freshest striped bass I have ever seen.

Him and his friends, a bunch of retired firemen, chartered a boat called “November Rain”. Now I don’t know if you know much about Firemen but it seems that they are the craziest bunch of guys out there. I guess it’s all that, heat and testosterone mixed together during their 24 hour shifts. When there is not a fire out there to fight, it seems that our nations bravest are out setting “fires” of their own. When I mean “fires”  I don’t mean “fires” as in flames but rather “fires” as in CRAZY practical jokes on each other.  Put 12 guys together in a house all by themselves and tell me you don’t get my drift

How my husband, a 40 something year old Jewish attorney from New York became buddies with a bunch of Irish Catholic Firemen is something I have not quite figured out. However, if my husband brings home pounds and pounds of fresh fish, I have no complaint.

After a couple of hours of fishing, one of the guys caught the motherload – a 35 lb striped bass. Now just to give you a frame of reference to how big that is, my 6 year old son recently topped off at 40 lbs.  So, imagine a 6 year old boy (albeit a skinny little 6 year old boy) and chop off his feet. That is about the size of a 35 pounder.

This jumbo sea creature was caught about 2 miles off Montauk point while the guys were “circling in the rip”. My husband insisted that I use this authentic jargon so that I can impress all you fisherman out there reading this BLOG. For the landlubbers most of you probably are, “circling the rip”, means that they caught the fish in the incoming rip tide. Evidently many fish are caught while in the incoming tide. This striper was caught while the boat was circling the incoming riptide.

After “bleeding” the fish – slitting a hole in the throat of the fish and basically draining all its blood (Ewwww!!!), and removing all the bones and guts, each of the guys took home their well deserved bounty.

My husband told me he was thinking about taking home the fish head for me. Now the OLD me would have likely shrieked in horror at a big bloody fish head in a bag with bulging eyes and scaly skin, but the NEW me, the one who is trying to cook up a storm and report back to you the results, would have reluctantly taken that fish head and tried to make some fish stew.  Like the saying goes, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” I would have gladly made “fish-ade” but alas, my husband chickend out and dumped the head. Maybe next time.

Now I like fish but I have had little to almost no experience cooking striped bass. When my husband proudly plunked down his catch, he said that his friends suggested that we fry or bake it. I had other ideas. I quickly ran to the supermarket to stock up on the following: lemons, limes, chopped pecans, olives, capers, wasabi, soy sauce and cilantro. I figured with the amount of fish he brought home we would be eating fish the rest of the week so I wanted to try out different recipes.

My first foray into striped bass was cleaning and slicing the fish. Thankfully one of the crew members fileted the fish so there was very little I had to do. I just simply rinsed the fish, sliced off all the bloody reddish parts and thinly sliced the fish into delicate slivers. Voila – Sashimi! I made a small bowl of some dipping sauce, (wasabi and soy sauce) and carefully put this super fresh fish into my mouth. And you know what? It was the BEST sashimi that even Nobu himself would be proud to serve. It reminds me of the taxi cab driver from that 1985 hit movie “Desperately Seeking Susan”. In the scene when Madonna is in the back of the cab heading out to retrieve her belongings, the cab driver relates to her “You know, I kinda like that sashimi stuff … took it home, cooked it up, tasted just like fish.”

The next recipe involved me chopping pecans. I chopped the pecans finely and carefully dipped the fillets in raw beaten egg and then rolled the fillets in the pecans to make a fine crust. We happened to have saved the bacon grease from earlier that morning so I figured lets fry the fish in the bacon fat. A little salt and pepper, a generous squeeze of lime and we were eating good.

I also made grilled squash. I recently discovered squash as I used to avoid eating it as a child. I never tried it for the simple reason that I just did not like the sound of that vegetable – squash. What the hell is squash. Is it squishy? Is it squashy? Why does it have such an unappetizing name? Well I was eventually tricked into eating it when someone told me it was zucchini and I unknowingly ate my first piece of squash. It was pretty good. I like to peel and slice the vegetable thinly on the bias, season it lightly with olive oil, chopped garlic, salt and pepper and then grill it till it is browned and toasty on both sides. Yummy.

Ok guys with all of this food talk, I am getting hungry Chow for now.