Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

My motivation for fishing is manifold. I enjoy the physical and mental challenge, the aspect of exploration, and developing a relationship with my natural surroundings: the weather, the winds, the water, and the fish themselves. While I am usually a catch-and-release type of person, once in a while I am also motivated to catch fish in order to eat them.


When I fish to eat, it is never a free-for-all. I fish for a specific species, and typically I have a certain size and number of fish that I want to keep. This spring, Ed got a special request from a friend to catch some nabeta (laenihi in Hawaiian, common name blackside razorfish) and he invited me to come along. The name “nabeta” sounds Japanese to me, and more specifically Okinawan, but I cannot really find references to the word outside Hawaii. It’s a bit odd that everyone here uses a Japanese name for the fish considering that the nabeta is a deep water wrasse that is endemic to the islands. At any rate, it is one of the most sought after food fishes among local people in Hawaii.

One of the fun aspects of bottom fishing is that each fish is a surprise, you never know what might bite your hook. On the flip side, this can be frustrating when you are after a specific species! Fortunately, we did manage to find some nabeta, including a strange, dark colored specimen that was returned to the deep after a photo for posterity:

The preferred cooking method for nabeta is to coat them lightly with cornstarch and then pan fry. They have very small, delicate scales which become crunchy in the fry pan, like little tenpura flakes. I kept two fish but based on the interest from my cat, perhaps I should have kept one more.

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