This morning I was filleting a green chili pepper. Yes, you can fillet everything. You remove the seeds and the veins to give a dish the flavor minus the fire. It got me thinking about the general idea of a filleting, that is, figuring out the fine flesh without the mess, such as in the case of the fillet of an Atlantic salmon.
I buy fish steaks, because, growing up, that’s how I mostly ate fish. Fish curry, for example is far better with steaks. Yet, in many cultures and cuisines, it seems there are more recipes for fillets than steaks, so fillets sell more than steaks. To maximize their yield from the fish they purchase at wholesale prices, supermarkets “do the math” and decide how many fish to sell as fillets and how many as steaks.
The price of a fillet is higher than that of a steak of equivalent weight, even though they may both come from the same catch, shipment or stock. Even from the same fish.
You pay for not just what you eat, but also for you don’t.
Plus it spares you the trouble of having to throw on an apron, throw down the fish, and skillfully remove everything you’d like to throw away. Instead you prefer to pay the price for processing.
The fishmonger skillfully carves out the fillet to produce a nice and clean fillet with minimal waste. Then there are overhead costs of disposing the waste, cleaning the apparatus, and complying with health safety laws, so you don’t have to. The skin, fat and bones end up on the cutting room floor, but the cold storage and supply chain costs cover the entire fish.
It’s cheaper to produce salmon steaks.
The alternative for you is go to the market for fresh whole fish, bring it home, and fillet it yourself. You’d do it with a certain confidence and style that would impress people. Besides, how else would you show off that bamboo cutting board and the sharp Japanese steel?
Or, perhaps that’s too much trouble.
You catch the fish. The someone will fillet it for you. There is plenty of fish in the sea. You take your boat out to sea and catch a fish. It’s your fish. You claim it. In international waters.
Just makes sure, you don’t catch a whale. The International Whaling Commission would have a problem, if it is not for research purposes.
If it’s not a whale, put that fish in ice, turn your boat around, set it maximum speed and head back to the coast. Your friends will arrive for dinner in less than four hours.
Go to InstaCart and order some fish fillets to be delivered within an hour. InstaCart will place an order with the grocery store. It’s a service. The store will anticipate the order because for some reason every single day somebody or the other wants to buy fish, and quite often the same four fish: bass, cod, salmon and tuna. So they tell their suppliers to catch some fish. It’s a service.
The suppliers can’t be bothered to get out their in boats and risk catching nothing but a whale, so they decide to buy the fish at noisy auctions, weight it, put it on ice and sell it to restaurants and grocery stores. The fish market, as a service, converts your fish from the sea into a tradeable commodity, making it easier for you to claim it.
As a service, the entire supply chain procures the providence from the sea, and places it on the steel table top at the supermarket. In other words, Plan-A, as a service.
Of course all this is absurd. Be smart. Eat steaks.