We arrive ill–prepared – Hebridean beaches are known for their absence of banana leaves yet we have brought no substitute foil to bake our catch. We make do with a well–thumbed copy of The Scotsman.
This method of cooking small whole fish keeps the flesh moist and traps all the flavour within the paper shell whilst allowing our catch to steep in the fresh herbs. Catching wild fish and baking it that same day on the shore from which it’s caught makes it, in my definition ocean fresh*.
Season each fish liberally all over with sea salt and stuff the fish cavity with slices of lemon, garlic and fresh herbs. Wrap the fish in about five sheets of paper, wetting each sheet first before applying the next layer.
Cook the parcels for about 15 minutes a side (longer for larger fish) in the hot embers of a campfire – the paper won’t burst into flames, but you may need smear some water on the paper once in a while if the edges smoke.
The parcel will blacken and the fish skin should come away with the paper to reveal beautifully cooked and succulent white flesh within.
Thankfully, by this stage, The Scotsman might be entirely illegible.
* the term fresh fish is of course relative. On the high-street, at supermarkets and in city restaurants fresh fish really means days old so, when patiently waiting for your number to be called at the fish-counter, be ready to ask where your fish is from and how many days ago your fish was likely caught. Supermarkets invent terms to suit their needs and, as a discerning consumer, it really is your right to challenge nonsense. At Octane we have therefore made a new, differentiated and entirely transparent definition – Ocean fresh. Simply put, it means caught and eaten same-day.