Another in the How to and Q&A series
Question: How do you kill a flathead?
Answer: Some people’s idea of killing a flathead involves throwing it in a bucket. This is pretty stupid, firstly because of ethics (and maybe even karma), secondly because it won’t taste as good as if you treat it properly and thirdly, because you will give PETA someone to hate and a few idiots make the rest of us look bad. If you’re really lazy, throwing it in a bucket full of an ice slurry will kill it eventually, although is pretty inhumane. The best treatment is to spike it. This can be done by looking for the spot behind the flathead’s eyes where the ‘armour’ of the fish’s head meets the soft flesh near the backbone. Insert a sharpened screwdriver or tent peg in here at a 45 degree angle towards the head. Make sure you get it smack bang in the middle.
This will hopefully go straight to the fish’s brain and kill it instantly. If you miss, don’t worry too much. If you got it straight in the middle, it will sever the spinal cord and achieve the desired effect – instant death.
A few other notes. You don’t need to bleed flathead (unless you plan to sashimi them, in which case its always smart to bleed your fish- one of my favourite dishes is flathead carpaccio- I’ll eventually throw up a recipe for it)(. Fish between 33cm (NSW, sand flathead) or 36cm (NSW, dusky flathead) and 55cm will be far superior than bigger fish, which can be dry and chewy. Added to this, the bigger fish are usually the breeding females, so please throw them back to make more tasty ‘little’ flathead.
Get your spiked fish onto ice, or even better, an ice slurry (made by combining ice and salt water), and it will become one of the nicest bits of fish you could eat.