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Website matches gourmands and fish heads

Saturday 15 Dec 2012 5:53 p.m.

ITM Fishing Show host Matt Watson has launched a project to encourage people to stop throwing away fish heads and instead give them away. He hopes the website freefishheads.co.nz will encourage better use of our fish stocks and create new friendships.

Watson would usually be out on the water on a summer's day, but he was on dry land spreading the word about his website today.

He says too many people dump their fish heads because they don't know what they are missing out on.

“I am an avid fish head eater and I was always disappointed when I’d see fish heads on the beach,” he says, “and just seeing mates, people I know, fillet their fish and see it go straight overboard, get buried in the garden.”

The idea of the website is to bring together people who want to give away fish heads with people who'd appreciate some.

At the Otara market there was plenty of support for the website.

“There is an obvious benefit, the fish itself,” says local board member Mary Gush. “But I also see it as a community builder.”

Maybe it's the way the heads look, but some people will need some convincing about the merits of fish heads.

Watson's friend Scott MacIndoe says before cooking the heads, you need to remove the scales.

“Do it right: teaspoon, hit the lawn,” says Mr MacIndoe. “Do it right. Do not do it inside – you will be in trouble.”

A quick wash, and the head can be put into a pot.

“Three snapper heads, a kingfish head, and shout yourself some onions.”

Ten minutes later, out come the fish heads.

“They are ready to yield the treats.”

There are a few more scales to remove, and then pull the flesh from the heads.

“The eyeball [is] an acquired taste – not something I go after as a rule.”

But if you're not into eyeballs, there's still a lot more tasty meat in the heads than you'd expect.

“I literally empty them onto some newspaper, and me and my kids just huck into it,” says Watson. “It's a great way to eat – just get in there.”

He found no shortage of people at the market keen to sign up for some fish heads, and he's encouraging more boaties to get involved as well. Watson hopes his website will not only encourage people to make better use of the fish, but will foster some new friendships as well.

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