GULFPORT -- Not many fishermen particularly enjoy cleaning their catch, as it's a task that usually comes at the end of a very tiring day.
It can also be quite unforgiving. A simple slip of the knife or a misjudged cutting angle can ruin a fish filet, and there's nothing more disappointing than leaving a sizable chunk of meat behind on a beautiful speckled trout.
And for the novice angler, cleaning a fish can sometimes be an intimidating task, especially if only one side of the fish has eyes and fins.
On Tuesday, Mississippi Seafood hosted a special "Gulf-to-table" cooking demonstration at Lynn Meadows Discovery Center, offering tips and techniques on how to clean and prepare flounder. The demonstration, geared toward adults, featured Mississippi Department of Marine Resources Biological Coordinator Paul Mickle and Chef Danie Rodriguez, a local celebrity chef who hosts a cooking show on WXXV Fox 25.
"This is to let people know how important it is to use local seafood," DMR spokeswoman Melissa Scallan said. "We thought this would be a good way to let people know a little about the biology of the fish, how to filet it and have it prepared."
Flounder are actually born as normal fish. Their eyes eventually migrate over to one side as they age, Mickle said.
"It's a beautiful white meat," he said. "It's just gorgeous."
Mickle demonstrated the best and easiest way to clean a flounder:
1. Cut an arc around the head, from the top of the shoulder down to the base.
2. Cut horizontally along the spine, all the way through the tail.
3. Flip the filet over so that the scales are on the bottom. Grasp the tail with one hand and position the knife in between the meat and the scales.
4. Cut horizontally, wiggling the fish and the knife at the same time.
5. Repeat the steps for the other side of the fish.
Flounder can also be cooked with the scales left on one side.
"I highly recommend leaving the skin on," Mickle said.
The class also received hands-on cooking lessons from Chef Danie, who prepared her signature Italian seafood dish, flounder caprese with risotto.
The DMR is organizing two additional "Gulf-to-table" demonstrations in May and June. If they generate a good turn-out, it may become a monthly event, Scallan said.