Eat those offcuts, often the best bits

We landed a couple of flathead on imitation prawn lures the other day. Nothing unusual about that. But upon filleting the fish, I made an effort to keep the wings.

Unlike the homogenised fillets selling for $40 a kilo at your fishmonger, ours had skin, bones and wings attached. Fish skin has higher levels than the flesh of certain vitamins such as riboflavin. My kids love it.

The wings, or pectoral fins, soused in mirin, salted and grilled were the highlight of the meal. In today's sanitised world a lot of great bits are discarded.

I've eaten barramundi throat latches bought off commercial fishers in Princess Charlotte Bay and thought them just scrumptious. Crispy fins are a treat, the flesh of fish cheeks is like scallop, and roe is delicious.

Bones in tinned fish are a great source of calcium. The little white backbones with a crunch are the kids' favourite part of tinned sardines.

Think about using the whole fish rather than processing just white, boneless fillets. Try Malaysian fishhead curry, make a good, rich fish stock from frames, and fry skin as a garnish for Thai crispy fish salad.

Meantime, the kingfish are on. Skipper Greg Joyes, Andrew Varasdi and Matt Dominello locked on to solid specimens off Broken Bay. Yellowtail and squid proved their undoing.

Central coast charter skipper Paul Minto had a load of flathead aboard after finding morwong and snapper on the reefs. Warm bluewater, full of baitfish, is out wide but there are no game fish.

Hawkesbury guide Ron Osman landed an 8kg kingfish and plenty of smaller ones in Pittwater. Big tailor to 45cm are around Cowan Creek. Flathead are at Patonga and luderick are still hanging about.

Big blue swimmer crabs are on the move and we're coming up to a good moon phase for prawns. The headlands are starting to produce a few bonito, too.

Mark Turnen from Narrabeen Bait says big whiting are biting. Night is best at the busy beaches such as Manly. Live wriggler worms - $8 for about a dozen - are the ultimate bait.

A 16kg jewfish was caught at Palm Beach and a 7kg specimen came from Dee Why this week. Some nice bream are joining in the action. Narrabeen Bait weighed a 17kg kingfish, cleaned, taken from Long Reef.

Harbour guide Stuart Reid says the fishing is erratic, with a few kingfish in Port Jackson. The best bets are the flathead on lures and bream on bait. Or try your hand at the luderick.

Bream and trevally are the fish of the day in Botany Bay, but Port Hacking might be better for flathead and whiting.

David.lockwood@bigpond.com

The story Eat those offcuts, often the best bits first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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