For the past ten days the ubiquitous Snoek (Thyrsites Atun) has been shoaling on the West Coast just outside of Saldanha Bay and the local launching jetty has been absolutely chaotic in the early mornings with the fishing boats clogging the access road waiting their turn to use the slipway.
The sudden surge in activity is definitely beneficial for the village and it will not last for much longer, as the shoals move further south the hectic activity will move to the harbour at Yzerfontein and then the slips in and around Capetown. Unfortunately the benefits are outweighed by the incredible amount of garbage discarded into the water and the surrounding bush by the absolutely inconsiderate and uncaring fishermen and the area outside the harbour where they sell their catches to the buyers from Capetown and surrounds is a stinking mess.
Be that as it may, there are financial benefits and it is also nice to be able to acquire a fresh Snoek for the braai, as I was able to do this past weekend.
Thousands of the gleaming silver fish are offloaded every day, most are sold as a load to buyers from town at around R15 each but the fish are also available to the public at around R30 each, they are "flecked" on site, sliced open, gutted and laid flat by expert women with flashing knives, ready only to be salted, washed, dried and cooked in whatever manner takes your fancy.
Ours happens to be on the braai and on the Sunday when I had my friends over for some seafood I had three types of fish for them;
top left harders (mullet) which I marinated in olive oil and chopped onions and cooked over the coals, right angelfish fillets which I smoked and bottom Snoek fillets, also for the braai.
The Snoek is a favourite South African braai fish, especially on the West Coast where there are as many recipes as there are people who braai them. In my time as the chief cook at the famous open-air seafood braai restaurants which I did for ten years I have braaiied literally thousands of these and my best baste was made up of butter, olive oil, lemon juice, mixed herbs and a generous amount of Apricot jam, this was all heated into a thick, sweet liquid which is painted onto the fish liberally whilst cooking.
Janet made some lovely herb butter potatoes and a rocket and cheese salad, this meal was preceded by the harders which made a lovely starter;
and by the smoked angelfish which in my haste to eat I forgot to photograph. Inevitably there will be fish left over as we always braai too much but this goes into another favourite of mine; fishcakes!
No waste and these are delicious. Perhaps before the shoals move south I will buy another couple of Snoek and put them in the freezer for a family gathering that is coming up soon. Living in a fishing village definitely has advantages, especially if you are a lover of seafood as I am. Cheers!