QUESTION ON GULF "BAITFISH" AS A TASTY DISH? [Moved from Florida board]
Now, as the Gulf water warms up, there will soon be swarms, that resemble black clouds in the water, of "Baitfish" coming near shore and in the bays. There are several different types. Scaled Sardines, Pilchards, GreenBacks, Thread fins, Glass Minnows, and Spanish Sardines, One or two of these names might be different names for the same fish.
My question is, does anyone have any experience of using fresh caught "Baitfish" for food? Talking to the oldtimers when I bring up the subject of eating these fishes, I get a look like I am from outer space! When I am out in my boat I only net as many of these fishes that I will use for bait that day. I have caught, eaten, and enjoyed Sardines, neo-Natale(?) just born tiny fish, etc. in Italy. I am at a loss to find anyone who eats the local bounty of the Gulf, in the form of these fishes.
It’s been a while since I’ve gone fishing in the bay.
We used to catch bait fish of different sizes thorough the summer for “bait”, however when nothing was being caught we bring home some of the bait fish for dinner, as you said, ala “Frito Misto”.
Before you spend a lot of time cleaning a big bucket of unknown bait fish, I recommend you try a hand full of each type you catch, and mentally catalog (or other wise) the fish, for the next time.
On a couple of occasions what we caught was not edible, the amount of bones thought-out the meat made eating impossible, unless you ground the whole fish.
1. My favorite way of cleaning the fish is to scale it, even if small, cut of the head and the belly. I don’t care how small the fish is I don’t like the guts. Fry them sprinkle with salt and lime.
2. Clean them the same as above, place them on a BBQ over hot coals, they cook really fast. Remove from BBQ and spoon a mixture of parsley, garlic, lemon and olive oil over the grilled fish.
3. Boil them, use the meat to make “croquettes” and use the broth to make rice or other dishes for filler, because it takes a lot of bait fish to get full.
Redfish, so in your experience the taste was good: that is enough confirmation for me. Next time I go out in the Gulf ,provided the "Baitfish" cooperate, I will bring a bucket home an give it a try. I think fried "Fritto Misto di Mare" style is a good first attempt using several types of "Bait".