Pemba Bay Kob has quickly become one of my favourite things. Supplied exclusively by a company called Ocean Mile who are based in Germiston in Jozi, the Kob is reared in Mozambique and is ridiculously delicious. (Excuse the pic above – this little guy’s eye was frozen when I took the shot.)
The fish’s flesh is firm and has a great game flavour to it and can literally be cooked any way. Luckily for me, I visited Ocean Mile last week Friday to see what they were all about and got handed three fat Pemba Bay Kob fillets. What an amazing catch!
Now, the first question on any real foodie’s mind will be “Is it SASSI Green listed?” Well, no, it’s not. (Bear with me here, I am quite passionate about animal welfare.) At the moment, there is no one in Mozambique policing this sort of thing, so Aqua Pemba (who rear the Kob) have taken it upon themselves to meet with the WWF (who control SASSI) and discuss the way forward.
Ocean Mile’s managing director, Ed, showed me something fascinating while I was at their offices. The picture below shows two Dusky Kob’s – both from the same batch of hatchling eggs. The top fish is a Pemba Bay Kob (let’s call him Benjamin) and the bottom one is from another supplier in South Africa. The bottom fish (let’s call him Gary) is listed as ‘green’ by SASSI because it is land-reared in SA. If Ben were reared in SA, he would be listed as ‘orange’ on SASSi’s list because he is sea-reared. Now, without getting into the whole thing too deeply, let me just say that the way these so-called ‘green’ listed Kob are reared is really not great. Gary’s life was shit.
He and his fishy brothers are reared on land in a tank filled to the absolute brim with Kob – so full that they can barely move. They ‘swim’ around in this tank and are unable to grow to their full size because there is not enough space for them to do much of anything. Notice how the Gary’s head is slightly bent upwards? Yup – he couldn’t swim properly and became deformed. You can’t see it in the picture, but his poor fins are all chewed up too. I feel so sorry for them.
Aqua Pemba’s Kob are sea-reared and about a fifth of the amount of Kob are in a tank the same size as the ‘green’ listed Kob. So they have four times more space to swim around in. And guys – it shows. Even a fool could see that.
Ben was 18 months old when he was harvested. Gary was 2 years old. And literally less than half the size. That speaks volumes for the way Aqua Pemba treat their fish. Animal welfare is a huge thing for them.
I can compare the way Gary was reared to one thing – Rainbow Chicken Farming. It sickens me that SASSI see this as a ‘green’ way of farming. It’s another long, involved story, but they think that sea-farming ruins the ocean. Luckily for Gary and his brothers, Aqua Pemba are getting an expert in to test all of this very soon, so that sea-rearing becomes the ‘green’ way, and Gary’s family can live in the sea and have space to mission…
My point to this whole story is – green is not always the best way to go. Read up on things, guys. Don’t just believe the hype. Ask your supplier about your fish and every product you buy. Poor Gary is being sold to one of SA’s biggest chain stores at the moment – I can tell you right now that Ben tastes 4011 times better and had a happy life.
Okay, enough information. Let’s get to the food itself. Like I said, Pemba Bay Kob can be cooked any way, because the flesh is so firm, it can withstand anything. But, being slightly hungover and jonesing for crisp, battered fish, I decided to deep-fry Ben. (Shem, sorry Ben. Love you.)
Firstly, get a pot onto a medium heat and fill about halfway with canola or sunflower oil. Now. Batter. The batter is SO straightforward, it’s actually silly. Chuck a bit of flour into a bowl (about half a cup), a tablespoon or so of cornflour and some salt and pepper. Chop a whole bunch of dill (coriander also works really well) and add it to the dry mix. Crack open an ice-cold beer (I used a Laurentina) and slowly pour it into the dry ingredients, mixing lightly until you get a pancake batter consistency.
Toss matchbox sized pieces of Pemba Bay Kob into seasoned flour (salt and pepper) and then dunk into the beer batter. I use chopsticks to play around with the fish in the batter and the hot oil. Test the oil out by dropping a small dollop of batter into it – if it starts to sizzle and floats to the top after a few minutes, it’s ready.
Fry just a few pieces of Pemba Bay Kob in hot oil until the batter is crisp and golden. While the fish is frying, heat a soft tortilla in the microwave (pretty much all I use my microwave for) and pile it high with greens. I used lettuce, coriander and spring onion – mainly because I was too lazy to prep anything else.
Drain the fried fish, sprinkle with Maldon salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime and then fold into the tortilla. I used a lime and coriander mayonnaise to finish the wrap off. Yoh. Delicious. Combination. And so simple.
Now I know that not everyone is as luck as me and gets handed over 2kg’s of fish to use over a weekend. Ocean Mile also sells wholesale at the moment, so to get your hands on Pemba Bay Kob, you’ll have to make your way to a restaurant. I know that Coobs in Parkhurst currently have it on their menu.
For more information on Aqua Pemba, click here. Follow Aqua Pemba on Twitter and Ocean Mile on Twitter and Facebook. Ocean Mile’s website is currently under construction, but will be up and running shortly.