Nose-to-tail eating should not apply only to land animals.
Top restaurateur friend Michael Dearth sent me an unusual pic recently. His new favourite delicacy of the moment is, wait for it, kingfish spine marrow. In his own words: "You get this beautiful clean kingfish flavoured gel, with a little bit of richness. It adds texture to the plate."
Although that's a slightly unusual use of fish compared to what we simple Kiwi folk might know, it's something I can totally get behind.
The search for new and exciting ways to show respect to your catch through full use is really catching on. The old way might have been to shoulder out a couple of fillets and discard the rest but now there's a bunch of smart new ways to maximise your meals or to allow others to do so.
Interestingly, in many other countries the fillet isn't even considered the best part, many savouring the extra sweet flavour you get from fish cheeks, gill plates, and heads. Not to mention the delicious fat they store in their stomach flaps (great smoked!).
I have another chef fishing friend who clips unused wings (the triangle around the pectoral fin to stomach) off the snapper he catches and drops them into a bucket in his freezer. When a few add up he pulls them all out, adds a bit of spice, tops with cheese, then grills to create delicious finger food snacks.
But even if you are only a fan of the fillet, it has never been easier to let others enjoy the rest of your fresh-caught fish. And let's be honest, with the price of fish (which, like cheese and butter, seems tied to international prices) what you might think of as throwaway is a real treat to some.
New Zealand's best-known fisherman, Matt Watson, has created a website —
— to advertise excess, or apply to grab some for free. Local community groups on Facebook are another great source. I know any free fish offered on the Mt Albert Facebook page gets snapped up within minutes.
It's worth reminding, however, that although you are allowed to give it away, it's illegal to sell or even trade your catch.
One thing you do get in return, however, is the buzz from sharing with often extremely grateful people. I've been known to put my excess heads and frames on ice and take them down under the harbour bridge, where there is nearly always a very happy fisher keen to take them home. I once took the thick spine of my 105kg bluefin tuna to some interning Chinese charity workers, who could not believe their good fortune.
Another fantastic initiative that I would love to see expand is one created by recreational fishing advocacy group Legasea. Down at the Outboard Boating Club (OBC) in Auckland, they've organised chillers and helped upgrade fish filleting facilities. Members of the club are encouraged to bag and leave any frames, heads and tidy excess they don't want there.
The club has an arrangement with the local Papatuanuki Kokiri marae, who are all too happy to pop up every now and then to collect and then distribute fish throughout South Auckland, for tangi and to the homeless.
To date they've done more than 160 pickups distributing more than 10,000kg of fish to those in need. It's something that would be great to see at more fishing clubs around New Zealand.
Fish is such a clean healthy source of super protein, and there is a direct correlation between rates of ailments such as diabetes and regular access to it.
I'm not saying your leftovers are going to save the world, but it's a great Kiwi thing to do with such a precious resource, especially for something that might otherwise have been wasted. Or who knows — you may discover a new favourite part of your catch to eat that's been right in front of you the whole time.
● Clarke Gayford hosts Fish of the Day