Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Eating deep sea fish

With all of the deep sea exploration, we are getting amazing photos of these deep sea creatures who live far below the surface of the seas, in the perpetual darkness and crushing depths of Davy Jones locker:

Edible fish of the deep ocean

Now, after seeing these amazing pictures like these you are probably thinking:

“What do these deep ocean fish taste like?”

Well, I went on a search to find out. There are two place that do deep ocean dishing, off the coast of Japan and off this islands of Madeira.

Madera is a lovely island in the mid Atlantic where the ancient volcanoes soar a mile above sea level, and conversely, plunge to depths of almost two miles deep.

On the island of Madeira they have learned how to fish for this deep sea delicacy, a fish that dwells more than a mile below the sea.

They are called “scabbard fish” (or Espada in Portuguese), and they are super ugly, sword-shaped with giant eyes and teeth:

These are super-creepy looking fish, with giant eyes and teeth to suit them for the perpetual twilight of their deep sea world. But note; deep ocean fish taste better then they look.

Fishing the deep ocean

Fishing a mile below the water is not a trivial matter. As a scuba diver, I know that the pressure increase 3x for every 100 feet, and I enjoy the three atmosphere “squeeze” that you get at 100 feet below the ocean (it makes you feel great afterwards!).

I don’t feel fat when I'm underwater!

But humans cannot survive the 150x atmosphere squeeze, a crushing squeeze that the scabbard fish take for granted.

At a mile depth, it takes a half hour to reel-up the fishing lines. Like a spaceman loosing pressure from rapid decompression in space, as scabbard fish are reeled up into the sunlit world, the Espada literally explodes from the pressure reduction. Their bold boils, their muscles rupture, making for some mighty tasty meat. The decompression also oxidized their bright silver scales, turning them to a jet black color.

Eating delicacies from the deep ocean

Madeira is a wonderful place, warn and friendly, with remarkable seafood. Their seafood might make some Americans squeamish, since when you eat seafood in Madeira, you get it “on the hoof”, as I learned when I ordered sardines:

Fresh Sardines in Madeira

You can get scabbard fish in many of the local restaurants, and I made sure to get ours sans head, filleted and battered. Below, the serve it Madeira style, with bananas, a major Madeira export:

Scabbardfish served-up Madeira style

Scabbardfish is a flakey white fish, pre-tenderized from the decompression (not firm flesh) and mild in flavor, not unlike halibut. We absolutely adore Madeira, especially when the snow flies at home:

Here are my photos from Madeira.