Primal humans ate as much of a beast as they could, cooking and processing food to make it easier to digest possibly even further back into our evolutionary history than we have traditionally thought. Some cultures still do, famously the Chinese. I have always been an experimental carnivore and relish scoffing new and exciting animals. I have often wandered around zoos contemplating the taste of one animal or another imagining I’m following in Darwin’s footsteps.
Preparing some smoked haddock for a fish pie this evening, I caught myself walking to the bin with their incredibly fragrant skins, skins with a good bit of flesh still attached. It occurred to me that I should freeze them for stock. An even better thought then popped into my head: ‘Fried, crispy fish skin’. Crispy fish skin is often seen on the menus of swanky restaurants, and for a good reason. As well as being delicious, it’s profitable due to the usual place fish skins end up. The bin.
I snapped the bin lid closed and in 10 minutes, with the help of some hot olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt, transformed the skins into a fantastic cook’s treat.
I cut the skins into squarish pieces of about 2 inches and put about half an inch of oil into a pan, heated it and dropped the skins in. They shrivelled up when they hit the oil, but relaxed out again after a few seconds. They fried for a minute or two in the oil, until golden, and then drained on a piece of kitchen paper and sprinkled with some sea salt flakes.
Potato crisps are one of my cheat foods. I’m not talking about the tasteless, uniformly beige things, laden with overpowering flavouring, but a good, earthy bag of thicker cut artisan crisps. The fish skin scratched the same itch I have for crisps and qualifies as primal food. They are like fishy pork scratchings. Crunch!
If you are trying to find me tomorrow, I’ll be at the fish market hunter-gathering in the bins.