Thursday, September 24, 2009

Five Dollar Family Feast - Fish

Ahi tuna is one of Hawaii's most famous foods. Most enjoy ahi in a few basic ways: as sashimi, in sushi, cubed in poke, and pan seared rare. In each case, the fish is derived from a boneless fillet. But ahi is a bony fish...what happens to the bones after they are filleted?

Thanks to my wife,Becky, I have discovered what happens to some of the bones, and deliciously so.

Becky works for the State of Hawaii, and her office is in Kalihi, on School Street. Every few months, a woman comes by selling fish out of a cooler (not an uncommon thing here). One of the unusual things she sells is something called ahi bone, which are the leftover bones of ahi after filleting. She sells a bag of about 20 pieces of leftover bones - each about the size of the palm of a hand - for $6. Becky split a bag with a co-worker, bringing the price down to $3 for 9 pieces (Becky gave the extra pieces to the co-worker, who had a larger family).

Each piece looks like a cut from a smaller fish (I'll take a picture the next time we get it...especially for Bennett). There is a thin layer of meat on both sides of each piece. Becky seasoned the fish simply with garlic salt, dredged in a little flour and sauteed. There is a row of very large bones that kind of resemble shark's teeth, plus some smaller bones, but none of the bones are so small as to be a danger, and are easily removed. In fact, you can get a few mini fillets from each piece that I made sure had no bones and gave them to my 5 year old daughters. In fact, it was kind of fun to work through the pieces of fish - just enough work to feel a sense of accomplishment, but not so bony to be a pain, like eating bluegill.

The fish was delicious, perhaps even more so because we fed our family of four very well(five adequately the first time, when my mother-in-law was with us). Add rice and a can of Niblets corn from Costco, and this meal cost us about five dollars. You can't beat that!

I would imagine that any good fish monger will have these bones hanging around and he/she should sell them to you for next to nothing. But watch out, they may catch on and could become the newest thing, and the price could skyrocket, just like oxtails (I just can't believe what they cost now!). So get them now and enjoy a delicious meal at current economy friendly prices!

Grace and aloha,


P. S. The fish is one of the enduring symbols of Christianity. The earliest symbol of Christianity in the catacombs was the fishes and loaves, what Jesus used to feed the five thousand men plus women and children. The tilapia is known as St. Peter's fish in many places, referring to Peter's profession.

You may have wondered what the Jesus fish stands for. It is an acrostic based on the letters which form the word Ichthys, which is "fish" in Greek. The letters stand for the phrase "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior."

I'm actually not a big fan of the Jesus fish (if you have one, God bless you, though). I think that it tends to trivializes Jesus (remember Elaine Benes from "Seinfeld"?) and I think anytime you parade a religious symbol without personal relationship is missing the point.

Something as important as all that Christ signifies and symbolizes should be celebrated at the forefront of one's heart, and not pasted onto the back of one's car's trunk.

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