You might have guessed from previous posts that I like to go fishing, especially sea fishing where I can eat my catch. The Florida Keys is mecca for sea fishing and this was my second attempt to fish here, the first was thwarted by a ripped knee cartilage just one week before the flight. This time I was successfully sat on a transatlantic flight with my great friend John Aplin and big fish hunter Lee Jasper to fish with

Fish the Dream (Rodney Goodship) is based in Marathon, one of the many islands that make up the Florida Keys. It is in an ideal location to fish both the shallow north side of the Keys and the deeper atlantic waters on the south side. The types of fish caught range from tiny Pin Fish (bait!) right through to huge Tiger Sharks, with a good selection of great eating fish like tuna, grouper, cobia, sea trout, cero mackerel and snapper. Rodney is an outstanding skipper & fishing guide, while his lovely wife Helen cooks you a great breakfast ready for the long day at sea. We had perfect weather and I managed to land my largest fish ever, a 175lb goliath grouper, along with a 120lb black tip shark!! But these were small compared to John & Lee’s 600lb bull sharks.

After a long day out on the boat wrestling with these fish, the last thing you want to do is cook, so luckily for us most of the restaurants in the area will cook your catch. The one we chose was Sparky’s Landing which has a great reputation for good food, its water side and has plenty of TV’s to watch the game!!

So armed with fillets of trout (a mean sea version with serious teeth) and cobia we headed to Sparky’s. They can cook your fish in four ways, fried, grilled, blackened and broiled. We chose fried for the trout and blackened for the meaty cobia (Blackened is a Cajun spice mix that when cooked in butter it blackens and tastes fabulous) Served with salad and fires, with a large pitcher of beer. We had a seat over looking the sea and only in America, there right in front of us was a guy battling a 250lb bull shark, which he successfully landed after a good 30 minutes or one beer pitcher!!!

We also enjoyed even fresher fish after catching a cero mackerel, which looks a bit like our mackerel, but bigger with menacing teeth! Thinly sliced, then served with wasabi and soya sauce, the freshest sushi you could ever imagine!

But it was the Blackened Cajun fish mix that was our favourite and I decided to give it a go once I was back in the UK. After a quick search I found there are many different recipes for this mix and using what was in my store cupboard I made a mix to cook a couple of fillets of bass. I have to admit it tasted better than any I tried in the Keys, so give it a go and give our UK fish a Cajun twist!!!

2 bass fillets skinned & cut into two (cod, pollack or monkfish will also work)

1/2 Teaspoon celery salt
1/2 Teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 Teaspoon Hot Pimento
1/2 Teaspoon garlic granules
1/2 Teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 Teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 Teaspoon dried chilli flakes

ground all ingredients together with a pestle & mortar
coated the fillets with melted butter and then covered with the spice mix
fried in a hot pan until cooked
The resulting plate wasn’t as strong or not quite as ‘black’ as the Keys version, but a great flavour and one I will be using more of in the future.

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