Catshark (Pata Roxa in Portuguese)

Cooked Catshark or Dogfish
Although I am still working through our wonderful South African trip, we are actually currently in wonderful Portugal and I cooked this wonderful fish yesterday and it turned out wonderfully! I’d never even heard of it and now I can’t get enough of it!

I googled it to find out a bit more about it and discovered it is called Catshark not only because of its cat shaped eyes, but also because its eyes (and apparently all sharks) have another cat property. Like cats, sharks have a layer of reflective cells behind their retina called the tapetum lucidum. This layer allows them to see better in dark and cloudy waters, in the deep sea or at night. (from ) Incredible.

Another strange thing is that it is called Dogfish in some countries. Now explain that one to me please!!! I think someone was just having a bit of fun and then it became reality. It takes all types to rule the world!

But now let’s get down to cooking this fish. The great thing about this fish is that even people who don’t like fish because of the bones will like this fish. It has no bones, like other fish, but more like a single long flexible bone type mass which can’t get stuck in your throat. Well, it could if you were really silly and tried to eat it, so just don’t! Pull the meat away from the central bone and enjoy!

Raw Catshark
The fishmongers in Portugal sell the fish skinned, so I am assuming that this is the case everywhere. (If not, ask your fishmonger to do this for you.) The reason for this is apparently because they are difficult to skin oneself. You need pliers and a metal glove. I say, leave it to the experts!
Catshark on sale at the market
Have them chop it into chunks, or chop it into chunks yourself, about 10cm each. Catsharks are about 60cm on average, and once the head and tail end have been removed, you’re looking at about 30-40cm of fish, so I recommend 1 CATSHARK PER PERSON. One will also easily be enough for 2 people as part of a meal, but if you’re a little greedy like us, go for one each!

The average weight of 1 catshark (skinned, gutted, chopped) is about 200-250g. At least that’s what they are here in Portugal. They are very reasonably priced at €5.00 per kilo – this is the price for a skinned fish, but still with head and innards. Two 700g fish cleaned up gave us 450g fish which was perfect for the 2 of us.

1 catshark per person, in chunks
Salt and pepper
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
Juice of ½ lemon

I wanted the flavour of the fish to shine out, so I simply put salt and pepper on the pieces and fried them in olive oil and butter for about 3-5 minutes per side. Then I squeezed ½ a lemon over them and that’s it! So easy and so deeelicious!

I served the fish with potatoes and Romanesco (you know, the pretty cauliflower), and it was a meal fit for a king. Give it a try, you won’t regret it.

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