Hook to Fork: Bonito Burgers

6am. The night sky glowed with the oncoming sunrise. I let out the fishing reels – ie. our trolling rigs, with a newly secured lure. (The day prior we lost a lure to a very large fish who nearly unspooled our entire reel in the chase; the 30pound test monofilament snapped after a jerk and the beast disappeared into the depths of the blue without ever being seen.)

I was still on shift at 7:30am, motoring the boat into the wind-less expanse when the sweet sound of a zipping line unspooling awoke the rest of the crew. No better way to wake up right? FISH ON! I immediately slowed the throttle down to ease the drag, then jumped out of the cockpit to attend the unspooling reel.

A few hard quick yanks on the rod ensures the hook is set, and the fight can begin. Spencer took to the other rod and reeled in the slackening line. I reeled my line frantically keeping steady tension while Kristian guided the fish into the fishing net. SUCCESS! By 8am we landed ourselves a beautiful sweet bonito!

We gave thanks to the fish for the gift of his life, and then immediately began filleting him on the back deck under the hot sun. By 0830 we had nice filets stored in our small dorm sized fridge.

Bonito is not my favorite fish – it can be quite ‘fishy’ tasting due to its bloody meat. But we have learned that if you bleed the fish immediately, it can dramatically improve how it tastes. Further, my cousin Sophie who joined us last year for a couple months introduced us to Bonito burgers which has morphed my upturned lip into a delightful smile when seeing a Bonito knowing a delicious meal awaits us!

That night we had an amazing dinner: Bonito Burgers crusted with toasted sesame seeds and adorned with boat-made avocado ranch aioli. To top it all off, Michael brought out a box of chilled red wine (tropical style = with ice cubes!) which gave this middle of Pacific meal a serious “moan of approval”. (Recipe below for Bonito Burgers and Avocado Aioli)

Bonito Burgers:

Minced bonito (or other “red” fish)
2 Shredded carrots
1 diced onions
equal parts yogurt & bread crumbs
Diced fresh parsley
Salt & Pepper to taste
Sesame seeds (optional) for dipping patties
Coconut Oil for cooking patties

Mix ingredients together, add more yogurt or breadcrumbs to get mixture to stick together. Form into patties, then dip patties into a plate of sesame seeds on both sides. Fry on medium heat with coconut oil. Serve ontop of toasted buns. Avocado Aioli:

1 ripe avocado, mashed
1 c buttermilk (we substitue with 1c milk & citrus/lime)
1/4 c mayo
1/4 c sourcream (we subtitute with plain yogurt)
1 small garlic clove, pressed
2 Tbsp Hot sauce
Chili pepper diced
2 Tbsp minced shallots
4 tsp fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp pepper

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Store in refrigerator. Great as salad dressing, on Bonito Burger, even as a pasta sauce!

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