|Sixteen inch long Cabazon caught off Cambria, California|
|Cut slashes in the meat to speed up cooking and get seasoning in deep|
This guy hit a small swim bait, but they are often caught on: squid, anchovies, cod flies, octopus and just about anything that happens to get in front of their faces. For their size, even a small cabazon can put up a great fight. They just keep their heads down, and do not give up. Once your fish is in the boat or on shore you have a decision to make. To get to it's firm, yet slightly oily, delicious white meat you must figure out how you want to clean it. Filleting the cabazon like a rockfish or perch will leave large pin bones deep in the meat. Plus cutting through the thick bones will quickly dull your knife. You could use the bones as a guide to cut off 4 fillets, but that is better for larger fish. I chose to leave mine whole with the skin on; a good choice if you want to deep fry the fish or broil it whole. I just gutted the fish and set it on ice until I got home. After the trip it got rinsed off the put in a brine of with sugar and salt until it was almost ready for the oven.
|Too bad cooking didn't do anything for his looks...|
About an hour before dinner I pulled the fish out to bring its internal temperature up a bit so I wouldn't have to cook it as long. I cut slits in the sides to help get my seasonings in deep, and to help it cook a little more even. For seasonings I used: Kosher salt, pepper, Old Bay, Garlic Salt, and dried chives. I turned my ovens broiler on high and slid in the fish. after about six minutes I flake checked it with a fork (this is where I wish I added a little aluminum foil to the top to protect it). It was not quite done enough so I let it go for four more minutes. The meat was flaky white, yet still moist.
|Dinner is served|
If you end up with one of these ugly fish on the end of your lines I hope you will look forward to giving it a chance under the broiler. I know a few people who prefer it to lingcod, halibut, or even salmon.
One word of caution about the roe, it is poisonous. No caviar from these guys. A buddy of mine named Bobby told me about an incident where cabazon caviar was served at a get together. He said it was better than any caviar he had ever eaten--until he went to the emergency room.
Thanks for reading,