The Fish that Built Point Judith
April 3, 2012
The Dented Bucket: A butterfish on deck in a tote with ice, slushed down in seawater–it’s almost heaven.
White flesh full of fat, the good sea fat not the potato chip kind. They’ve got beautiful silver bodies, flattened like a frisbee, tiny scales. And the fish are nearly spineless, except for a micro-spine at the base of the anal fin that can–if the spine gets your hand just right–send you screaming across the deck, tears in your eyes.
The Japanese spent large sums of money in the 1980s importing these fish from the East Coast. Like many things Japanese, they turned the butterfish into art. Tradition, discipline, repetition. Great pride was taken in cutting the butterfish. Each fish was butterfly cut–which lays the fish open top to bottom, like you would when preparing to stuff a shrimp. The fish were then salted and dried on wooden racks. After drying, the fish were grilled. The Japanese ate them for breakfast, daily, like we eat eggs.
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