Aji Fry

Aji Fry / Crumbed Deep Fried Jack Mackerel

Jack mackerel
salt and pepper
deep fryer
brown sauce, Bulldog or HP

Heat the fryer.
Fillet the jack mackerel, remove the lateral line. (You don’t need to remove the bones along the spine with tweezers if frying.)
Salt and pepper the jack mackerel and set aside.
Prepare 3 dishes, one for flour, one for the egg whiske with a fork, and the other for the breadcrumbs.
Dip the fish first into the flour, next the egg and finally the bread crumbs.
Place in the fryer.
Remove once cooked. 2-3miutes or until golden brown.
Serve with brown sauce with a side of rice and vegetables.

Aji Nimono Recipe

Aji Nimono  AKA Simmered Jack Mackerel

1 part soya sauce
1 part mirin
1 part sake
ginger, sliced julienne
jack mackerel

Remove the head and guts of the jack mackerel. Fillet. Remove the lateral line and centre bones.
1:1:1 is the portion of the soya sauce, mirin and sake. I used a very small Chinese tea cup for measuring. Perhaps it was about 50ml.
Add the liquid and ginger to a fairly hot frypan.
Add the fillets. Simmer each side for about a minute each side if that.
Serve immediately.

If you don’t want the fish to curl then you could use bamboo skewers.

Geting jiggy with it

Using this jig I caught these snapper…

This was my first time to catch a fish using a jig. The rod needed to be moved constantly to mimic fish movement.
If you want to munch on a sandwich while jigging, don’t. Unless you can multitask. I can’t.
The following day I caught nothing on the jig.
Beginner’s luck?
I think using the rod like a sparkler and making large lazy eights on the first day helped. I didn’t know what I was doing so I just had fun. A jiggy dance in between. So I think that attracted the fish.
Sparkler eight, a jiggy dance and repeat.

Orca pod sighting

Orca pod sighting

Where:  Waitemata Harbour, Auckland, New Zealand,
When:  Monday 19th November 2012

Nowhere in this photo is the pod of orca we saw, this is not far from where we saw them. I didn’t get my camera out in time, as I was slightly unnerved.They were fast and busy rounding up possibly a stingray or shark  for lunch. I think I saw a female. The fin was rounded sloping back. At first when  I saw a fin in the distance I thought, another whale, then we saw another fin closer to kayakers and thought, wait a minute, maybe its dolphins. We stopped the boat and sat and waited for them to surface again. They did and we saw the distinctive white colour on the belly and the fin. Excitement mixed with a touch o f fear. They carried on their merry way in the direction we were not going.

Oshizushi revisited

You know that cupboard in the kitchen that you have been meaning to clean out. Well I cleaned one of mine out and rediscovered my sushi making equipment.
I found the round wooden bowl for cooling the sushi rice and I found the wooden sushi presses for making blocks of sushi, oshizishi. Now the sushi looks more professional. *Remember to leave the plastic wrap on when you cut and remove before you eat. It makes slicing so much easier!

The rice in the wooden bowl cools down at a better rate when fanned. The rice should appear shiny.

The sushi box comes with three parts, a base, the sides and a lid. Before you place the fish and the rice into the mold line with plastic wrap so cleaning up afterwards is easy.

Once you have made the oshizushi a weight needs to be left on it overnight. I use a 1.5 litre plastic bottle filled with water.

For the recipe on how to make oshizushi please go to Oshizushi Recipe.

Total Solar Eclipse 87% coverage

10:27AM local standard time
This is what the solar eclipse revealed, a solar eclipse through cloud cover. Still spectacular but fifteen minutes later and the sun was clear surrounded with blue skies and the occasional dot of cloud.

I read that you shouldn’t look at the sun. That’s like telling a child not to eat the biscuit on the plate that is sitting in front of the child.
Tempting. Could you refuse?
I looked up about how to see the eclipse without hurting my eyes. I came across the eclipse projector.

Eclipse projector

2 pieces of card
1 pin

Pierce one card in the centre with a pin.
Stand with your back to the sun during a solar eclipse.
Hold one card in each hand.
Hold the card with the hole closest to the sun and line up the card so that the other card is in shadow.
You should be able to see an image of the eclipse reflected onto the card furthest from the sun.

Two cards held up to the eclipse. You can see the shadow of the serrated edge of the card closest to the sun.

Image of the sun projected onto the card.

Does a solar eclipse help or hinder fishing?
Helps a lot!
The solar eclipse occurs during a new moon which is a great time for fishing. We went out fishing yesterday and had our best catch ever. One day either side of the new moon is supposed to be best. We were also able to view a spectacular thunder and lightening display from the boat looking at the Auckland coastline. Better than Guy Fawkes Day celebrations.We discovered that there was a hail storm when we checked a newspaper online once on dry land. We only got a little rain once we decided to return to shore otherwise we were in bright sunshine and blue skies. Oh and the water was the calmest ever, like floating over maple syrup. I had French toast for brunch so I had maple syrup on my mind. Little wind also. The weather can be so different out to sea and on land. Yesterday I witnessed first hand how visually it was so.

Top 10 fin fish list I want to catch to eat

Jack mackerel / Aji
This is not on the list as this is the most common fish I catch. I am trying to expand my recipes to use Jack mackerel in creative ways in the kitchen. At the moment I am taking the Japanese way of cooking this fish and running with it. I want to go Spanish and Thai next but let’s not rush things. Let’s just sit back and enjoy the meal first. Slow Food.

These ham and arugula sandwiches with mustard were pretty tasty. Actually they were amazing. Left over glazed ham from the night before. Yum. Note the generous slicing. You can still make out the cloves in the rind. They filled our stomachs on the boat while fishing one day last month. Lunch is not usually this good. I was really making an effort that day. Going for the gorgeous homemade sandwich.

I want to increase the amount of fish in my diet. I want to eat fresh fish. I don’t shirk cutting and gutting. I have tweezers for removing bones and a special tool for removing scales. A friend told me that a narrow paint scrapper does the job just as well. It’s true. And I have a sharp knife. Which reminds me it needs a run on the sharpening stone. Cutting through jack mackerel bones tends to dull the knife quickly. I might even try and sharpen it at the end of each filleting session. Remind me.
I have caught jack mackerel. And I hope to catch more in the future but I want to expand my fish repertoire. I want to mix it up a little. Eating the same fish can get rather boring. I have developed different ways of serving it up. I have more ways to show and about that will be on a later post. I made deep fried jack mackerel with HP sauce served with rice. That was eaten so fast that I didn’t have a chance to think about photo opportunities. Next time I will take a photo and add a recipe for that. Smaller jack mackerel are best for fried.


  1. Anchovy
  2. Red Snapper   (caught 13 November 2012)

  3. John Dory
  4. New Zealand Sole
  5. Blue Cod
  6. Blue Mackerel
  7. Trevally
  8. Tarakihi
  9. Bass Groper
  10. Hapuku

If anyone has a particular bait or hook for catching these fish I would be very happy to hear what you use.
Also when are the best times to fish? Early morning or anytime you can are the answers that I read. The moon and the tides have a massive impact on the chances of catching a fish. I have much to learn.
Do fish have rest times and feeding times or that just a myth?
I am open to all advice on fishing. I would love to hear from you.

And while I am asking questions: why do I only ever seem to catch undersized red snapper? Where are all the big fish?

In New Zealand we have limits on the fish you can catch. Here are the limits for the fish I have on my wish list.

1. Anchovy

No Limits

2. Red Snapper
Size: 27cm+
Quota Limit: 10

3. John Dory
Size: No Limit
Quota Limit: 20

4. New Zealand Sole
Size: 25cm+
Quota Limit: 20

5. Blue Cod
Size: 30cm+
Quota Limit: 20

6. Blue Mackerel
No Limits

7. Trevally
Size: 25cm+
Quota Limit: 20

8 Tarakihi
Size 25cm+
Quota Limit: 20

9 Bass Groper
Size: No limit
Quota Limit: 5* (combined daily limit of 5 fin fish from Bass/Hapuka/Groper/King Fish, but only a maximum of 3 king fish)

10 Hapuku
Size: No Limit
Quota Limit: 5* (combined daily limit of 5 fin fish from Bass/Hapuka/Groper/King Fish, but only a maximum of 3 king fish)

Quota limits are for the Auckland Kermadec Area and is current at May 2012
*Fish are measured from the tip of the nose to the V of the tail

Ministry of Primary Industries New Zealand
New Zealand Fish Guide

Yellowtail, redtail, bluetail, one of these is not like the others

When is a Jack mackerel a yellow tail or perhaps a Horse mackerel?
This is not a riddle.
Why oh why can names not be standarised?
It would make my life easier.
Why is that I buy two fish identification books for the New Zealand area and they do not agree on names?

We caught one blue mackerel and we didn’t know what it was. I was cautious of it being a size restricted fish so in the interest of “better safe than sorry” I made the executive decision to throw it back. It turned out to be the wrong decision but I can live with that.
Now I can recognise the difference between a Blue mackerel and a Jack mackerel. I know for next time.
The presence of Blue Mackerel on the day we saw the whale means perhaps they both like krill and the krill were around.
According to one source the Blue mackerel like to swim below schools of Jack mackerel. So there you go.

Blue Mackerel found in New Zealand:

Blue Mackerel/English Mackerel
Scomber australasicus
Drawing sourced from Eagle Magic

Jack mackerel found in New Zealand:

Greenback horse mackerel / Horse Mackerel
Trachurus declivis
Drawing sourced from  Zoological results of the fishing experiments carried out by F.I.S. “Endeavor” 1909-10 under H.C. Dannevig

Yellowtail Horse Mackerel/ Yellowtail Scad/ Jack Mackerel / Yellowtail
Trachurus novaezelandiae
Drawing sourced from the Department of Primary Industries, Victoria, Australia

Murphy’s Mackerel
Trachurus murphyi
Drawing sourced from Food and Agriculture Organization
of United Nations

Okay I have looked at the drawings and just like on Seasame Street I tried to play the game of “One of these things in not like the other,” and I came up only with one of them was in colour and the others were in black and white. I cannot see the difference between the three fish.
Apart from perhaps if the Trachurus murphyi has a gap in the anal fin near the tail otherwise I have no idea.
Then the Z shape of the lateral line is more rounded with the Trachrus novaezelandiae, but this could just be artistic interpretation.
I am still no further along determining the differences if there are any. Perhaps it is just an internal difference? I think not.

Drawing from Ocean Oasis

Aji Capaccio

  • Very rich in Omega 3
  • Best served on the day of the catch

Aji Capaccio AKA Mackerel Capaccio

thinly sliced pieces of mackerel* (bite sized pieces)
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
olive oil
juice of 2 limes, or 1 lemon
black pepper

Fillet and remove skin and bones from the jack mackerel (aji).
Place on a dish ready for serving.
Scatter the garlic over the fish.
Evenly sprinkle with olive oil.
Squeeze the juice of limes/lemon evenly over the fish.
Sprinkle pepper.
Serve immediately.
Goes well with champagne!

*If you find that the bones are difficult to remove along the spine after filleting the fish, remove the skin first and then cut on either side of the bones and create two skinny fillets per regular fillet. This size is perfect for slicing for capaccio.

A whale of a tail

The photographs are in sequence.

Out fishing anchored off Waiheke Island yesterday we spotted a whale. We were fishing for Jack mackerel and snapper. Excitement took over and I just had to get my camera. That was not forthcoming so my phone became the next option. In nature you don’t get a lot of time to take photos so I went for a record rather than the best shot.
It was much bigger than our boat, the sound of air escaping the blowhole was noisier than a neighbouring boat’s excitement when catching a fish. It’s gracefulness appeared effortless. It didn’t surface completely.  There was very little time to observe. I have no idea what size it was.
On reflection after it passed I thought about the danger side of getting too close to the whale. We were anchored so there wasn’t much chance of getting out the way in a hurry. It was a pleasant encounter.
The seas are for all. No matter how big one feels there will always be a bigger fish in the sea.

What kind of whale was it?
– No idea.
What was the length of the whale?
– No idea.
How many whales were there?
– At least one.
Are you sure that it was a whale?
– No.
Was it spectacular?
– It sure was.
Will you have your camera at arm’s length for next time?
– I sure will.