Saturday, May 18, 2013

How to Broil Whole Cabazon.

Sixteen inch long Cabazon caught off Cambria, California
    If are fishing on the west coast and you hook something that pulled like a freight train for it's size and has a face that only a mother could love--you caught yourself a cabazon. The cabazon is a bottom fish found off the Pacific coast from Mexico to Alaska from just off the shore to over 250 feet deep. In Spanish, Cabazon means 'big headed' or 'stubborn, which is a good description of this giant member of the sculpin family. If their looks weren't enough, they also are armed with poisonous spines. The poison is not going to kill you, but you are going to be in pain for a while if you get stuck. 
Cut slashes in the meat to speed up cooking and get seasoning in deep

     This guy hit a small swim bait, but they are often caught on: squid, anchovies, cod flies, octopus and just about anything that happens to get in front of their faces. For their size, even a small cabazon can put up a great fight. They just keep their heads down, and do not give up. Once your fish is in the boat or on shore you have a decision to make. To get to it's firm, yet slightly oily, delicious white meat you must figure out how you want to clean it. Filleting the cabazon like a rockfish or perch will leave large pin bones deep in the meat. Plus cutting through the thick bones will quickly dull your knife. You could use the bones as a guide to cut off 4 fillets, but that is better for larger fish. I chose to leave mine whole with the skin on; a good choice if you want to deep fry the fish or broil it whole. I just gutted the fish and set it on ice until I got home. After the trip it got rinsed off the put in a brine of with sugar and salt until it was almost ready for the oven. 
Too bad cooking didn't do anything for his looks...
       
      About an hour before dinner I pulled the fish out to bring its internal temperature up a bit so I wouldn't have to cook it as long. I cut slits in the sides to help get my seasonings in deep, and to help it cook a little more even. For seasonings I used: Kosher salt, pepper, Old Bay, Garlic Salt, and dried chives. I turned my ovens broiler on high and slid in the fish. after about six minutes I flake checked it with a fork (this is where I wish I added a little aluminum foil to the top to protect it). It was not quite done enough so I let it go for four more minutes. The meat was flaky white, yet still moist. 
   
Dinner is served
      This is a fish that really benefits from leaving its head on, because its cheeks are too large tasty to leave behind. You can see the muscle bulging out of the skin in the photo above, and it makes sense; most of what cabazon eat are crab and mollusks like abalone. this tough food means big cheek muscles, don't miss out on that. Then just flake the meat off the skeleton, you will want every little bit. I just added a little fresh green onion and served it up with mixed greens and rice. If you are serving someone who is squeamish around whole fish hiding in foil might be the way to hide its ugliness under foil. 


        If you end up with one of these ugly fish on the end of your lines I hope you will look forward to giving it a chance under the broiler. I know a few people who prefer it to lingcod, halibut, or even salmon. 

       One word of caution about the roe, it is poisonous. No caviar from these guys. A buddy of mine named Bobby told me about an incident where cabazon caviar was served at a get together. He said it was better than any caviar he had ever eaten--until he went to the emergency room. 

Thanks for reading, 

Dan

   

16 comments:

  1. Got to admit, that's a pretty ugly fish.

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  2. The biggest, ugliest, "Sculpin" I have ever seen! However, I always enjoy reading and learning about fishing possibilities around the country even if I never get an opportunity to fish there.

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    Replies
    1. If you can, the fishing and the scenery on the central coast is worth the trip.

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  3. Replies
    1. Ugly on the outside, but beautiful on the inside. :D

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  4. Dude, that is wild looking. Cool catch!

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  5. At least it looks good on a plate.

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  6. Growing up as a kid on the Monterey bay, I would catch these fishing off the rocks. A little tip I learned as a kid...use their stomach contents as bait.. I know it sounds gross,but you probably will catch a rock cod or ling.. The small crab usually works the best.

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    1. That is a good tip. i've doe it before it see what they are eating as well. I like the small octopuses the best for bait.

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  7. I caught one here today near Charleston, Ore...it was an inch too short to keep, only 15 inches, I will surely keep the head on when I bbq one tho! Thanks for posting about the roe.

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    1. The cheek meat is worth keeping the head. Tight lines.

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  8. I used this method after wasting good meat trying to fillet these guys. I will broil this tasty fish everytime! Thanks for the tip.

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  9. No Problem. Next one I get I am going to smoke. :D

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