Wednesday, April 15, 2015

ONE CRAYFISH

I love the challenge                                                                                                                                                         Moose
‘Relax’, I tell myself as I force out the last bit of air at the very bottom of my lungs. I take my last gulp of precious gas, then using a slender strand of kelp I pull myself downwards, ever downwards... ‘Slow and precise movements’, I assure myself. I have spotted two very long red feelers, their tips waving with the surges. It’s a monster, maybe my biggest ever. The bag limit is four, I just need one more. I choose my moment and go for it, but I miss. Now I won’t get air as soon as I hoped. By feel alone I chase the lively brute a full arm’s length to the back of its cave. It’s trapped. I have the base of a feeler pinched between my fingers and thumb. I’m afraid a swell might wash me from my delicate purchase. I don’t have enough grip to allow me to tug, so I have to jiggle it out, which takes time. I want air so badly that it hurts. I think of abandoning… but then a good jiggle allows me to go for a better hold, I’m quick to establish firmer clasp and things become easier, but there is still work to do. I feel lightheaded and my whole body shudders with each heartbeat as I thrash towards the surface, ignoring any notion of slow precise movements. It’s big, too big for my goodie-bag. I turn on my back, which allows me both hands to secure the gyrating giant, while I slowly fin my way though the turbulent waters towards the shore, knowing that we will feast like kings…

Lacerated fingers normally accompanies one of these. Never nice when it's lemon squeezing time.                       UHG
'Just the one then', thought Stef; a frown furrowed into his brow.                                                                             UHG
So my mother was right after all. It seems I do suffer from delusions of grandeur.
What really happened was that after an hour of coughing and spluttering in the cold water I managed to emerge with a single crayfish. I sneaked discreetly around the back of a large boulder to avoid the divers on the other-side, who were of manly cheer and rightly so, because their bags were hanging. I still had to face my expectant friend Stef and I know he really likes to cook a crayfish.

They are fantastic creatures, 'All hail the Jasus Lalandii'.                                                                                                  UHG
Keep the shells for a bisque or stock                                                                                                                                     UHG
About 6 years ago the West Coast Rock Lobster (crayfish) season extended from November until after the Easter weekend, making a total of more than 150 fishing days. This season, we had a measly 21 days. Surely the radical depletion of stocks is not due to excessive hauls by weekend fisherman, but by the commercial companies. All you have to do is go down to your local fish outlet and see what see what the commercial size limit is: not much bigger than a shrimp, I tell you. This indicates that commercial quotas have probably been increased at the expense of small-scale fishing. But the ones who feel it the most are the artisanal fishermen who have relied on so-called ‘sustainable quotas’ to feed their family through generations. They are now forced to poach so their communities can eat, while the corporates rape our shores and line their pockets. This is not right.

Pop- in-your-mouth-in-one-go-crayfish-cocktail with foraged fennel                                                                           UHG
On the warm and lazy drive home Stef and I decided it would be rather fun to see how far one West Coast Rock Lobster could stretch. Lo and behold it made four good portions of bisque and four generous starters of crayfish cocktail. We dined like dignified princes as apposed to feasting like kings, but we were well pleased with that.

Stef's scrumptious crayfish bisque. 'More please?'                                                                                                               UHG
A big thanks to my mischievous friend Stef for all the laughs on a fine day out.

Only about 20 minutes ago I hoovered up the last of his delicious bisque. I am smiling right now :D





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