What is a Saury?
Do you know the SAURY?
Yes, do you know the balau/saury? Not the schooner vessel, the fish! Even grilling the schooner vessel wouldn’t make it very digestible. The balau is a very elongated fish with a long mouth with a kind of lace. Thin and tapered its skin is very delicate making it a favorite of the local population. It can be fried or grilled served in an escabeche style or blaff style (a Caribbean stew) which it has been done since the 18th Century. Before tasting it you have to catch it!
Coming in various shades of blue, purple, and silver it is abundant off the coasts of Martinique. A flying fish they can jump long distances a feature which allows them to escape their predators : the dolphins.
The Saury is not only found along the shores of Martinique. It is present in the tropical waters from the US to Brazil. They can also be found in the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea. You can find them starting out as a group heading from West Africa. They feel most at home in water temperatures between 8°C to 25°C. It’s Japanese cousin the sanma is prevalent in the fall season during the time period of October to November and is much bigger and fatter. Sanma is also known as katana named after the Japanese sword that has the same elongated shape. The saury is fished year-round, it is easier to capture at night as the fishermen’s lights attracts them. There are several fishing techniques such as : netting (Seine net), line fishing, or angling. Netting is done on foot , the fishmen enter the water armed with a large net up to 100 meters of water extending all the way back to the beach. This fishing technique allows fishermen to catch a large number of fish from the bottom of the sea. The line method usually involves a lot of patience to catch a few fish at a time. Angling is an ancestral way of fishing used throughout many cultures of the world. The net is weighted down by sinkers which can be recovered at anytime. The saury can also be used as bait to capture other larger fish such as sharks, swordfish, and tunas. Once fished you have to clean it and wash it without damaging it.
Afterwards, there are many different ways to cook it. You can simply grill it or marinate it and deep fry it. The saury can be marinated with garlic cloves, thyme, hot pepper, chives, salt, pepper and then add some water to the mix. Let the fish marinate for at least an hour. After about an hour, gently pat dry the fish and flour it. Then proceed to deep in a skillet of some sort. Once one side becomes golden brown turn it over on the other side to fry as well. You can add onions to the fish just repeat the previous step of frying.
Another recipe is the fish escabeche, although not originally of West Indian origin it is nevertheless still delicious. In a stock pot bring to a boil for three to four minutes the following: a cup of oil , cup of vinegar, some white wine, thyme, an onion(sliced), bay leaves, and peppercorns (black pepper can be used in its place if you have none). Once boiled turn off the heat and in a dish combine the fish , liquid mixture and salt. Place in fridge for at least twenty minutes.
The third and final recipe if the Blaff. Blaff is a Caribbean recipe that preserves the taste with no added fat. Great for a beginner! We must first soften the fish making incisions on both sides of the fish which will allow the seasonings to better enter the fish giving it full flavor. Place the fish in a large salad bowl. Adding to this lime juice, 2 garlic cloves, half of a hot pepper, a pinch of salt and 150 milliliters of water. Let it rest for about fifteen minutes. Make sure during this time you turn the fish around at least once. While your fish is marinating use the time to cut one large onion and 30 grams of chives. In a large saucepan add: 250 ml of water, onions, parsley,a garlic clove, allspice(pimento seeds), and Spanish thyme (Mexican mint).
Although Spanish thyme is from the same family as French thyme from the southeastern region of France it has neither its taste or appearance. The Mexican mint is more similar in taste to oregano with a minty and sage flavor. These leaves are quite thick and covered in a light fuzz. The mexican mint can be grown anywhere either inside or outside.
Returning to our pot, bring everything to a boil. Once the water is brought to a boil incorporate the fish and hot pepper. The hot pepper will be removed at the end. After two to three minutes turn the fish over. Blaff only takes six minutes to cook. At the end of six minutes turn off the stove, remove the hot pepper, squeeze a lime juice into the mixture and mix everything together and serve while warm. The blaff can be accompanied by white riz and lentilles. It is a deliciously digestible dish low in calories. This style of cooking can be used with any other fish.
The only downside to the saury is its ability for defending itself. It has a lot of bones, use caution when eating it!
And what about the schooner you ask? Well, it is an elegant sailboat with at least two masts and a slight incline toward the rear. More often used in the West Indies its quick as a saury and beautiful as a seagull.