By: Ryan Saul
Something I’ve really come to appreciate about a yearlong Caught Not Bought challenge is that it has forced me to challenge some of the preconceived ideas about certain foods.
One food in particular is the bonito. My entire life I have been told that bonito is shark bait and nothing more because it’s too bloody to be of any food value.
I’ve been told otherwise by a few good friends over the years, but have never taken the leap to find out for myself. That changed last week.
I was freediving on a wreck out of John’s Pass last week when a few bonito buzzed me while they were feeding on a bait ball. I took advantage and shot one of them.
I bled it proper by cutting its jugular while swimming it back to the boat. I gutted it in the water and then buried it on ice.
I’ve had hundreds of bonito in the cooler before and many in the freezer but they have always been intended for bait and nothing else. When I got home that day I filleted my first eater. I was reluctant after seeing how red the meat was, but I was committed at this point. I did my best to remove all of the bloodline before putting it in a gallon Ziploc bag.
Later that evening I took out a loin and sliced it super thin. If I was going to give it a go I might as well go all the way. I dipped my piece in soy sauce and wasabi and ate it.
I laughed, that first bite of bonito sashimi was as good as any tuna I’ve ever eaten. It was clean and not fishy at all.
I marinated the rest in teriyaki for the following day. The next day I got the cast iron hot and quickly seared the rest of the bonito. Again, as good as any seared ahi I’ve ever had.
One major point to note is that it’s crucial to get all of the bloodline out. Any bloodline left will make it taste like the catfish that died in your crab trap.
Bleed the fish right away and get it on ice, be thorough with the bloodline and take care of the meat before eating it and I promise you will never feed another one to a shark or jewfish.
The moral of this story is this: challenge the stigma. As far as table value of any fish, animal, or plant, find out for yourself; stick it to the grumpy old man.
For 34 years I’ve missed out on another excellent food option because I listened to someone else tell me they’re no good. I won’t make that mistake again.