Trout has never been my favorite food. Growing up, when people said something was “fishy” and they didn’t like it, my mind immediately would picture trout. I have tried trout in restaurants a few times, and usually the end results are my sides are gone but three-quarters of the fish is still on the plate. I feel like a stubborn toddler who refuses to eat, and everyone around me keeps pressing for me to “try your fish.”
I thoroughly enjoy trout fishing, whether it be for rainbows, cutthroats, or browns. Trout fishing is an activity that can be enjoyed by any age group, can be done from the shore or a boat, requires patience, and also tests your critical thinking abilities. With trout fishing, there doesn’t seem to be a one-size fits all solution for catching fish. Sometimes lures work, sometimes worms, other times the fish are craving cheese. Every time is different. A day spent trout fishing is a good day.
So, as much as I loved trout fishing, I didn’t really enjoy eating trout all that much. I knew a lot of people who said they loved trout, so I figured there had to be something that I was doing wrong. As I started fishing more and experimenting with fish recipes, I realized I don’t dislike trout. I dislike farm-raised, probably been frozen for a few months trout. Trout prepared at home is amazing!
The last few months, I have tried simple, but delicious, fish recipes and I have made over-the-top recipes combining ingredients that I never thought would be a good match for trout. This recipe is definitely a simple and quick recipe. I made it at home this time, but I think it is one that would be amazing over the fire pit after a long day of catching fish at the lake. While I call this a simple and quick recipe, the flavors are rich and very developed. Even with only a handful of ingredients, I think the taste is very complex and each bite highlights a different aspect of the fish.
I used filets with the skin on for this recipe, but you could also leave the fish whole and stuff the cavity of with ingredients. If I were preparing this while camping, I would definitely do it that way since it would require much less preparation, which isn’t always easy to do when outside. But since I was at home, I used the filets so I didn’t have to pick around bones. These particular fish were cutbows we caught lake fishing in Colorado, and the meat was red, almost like salmon, and very substantial. I used to think people were weird when they would talk about how beautiful cuts of meat were, but these filets can only be described as beautiful!
This recipe requires very few ingredients, but it does have a couple of extra “tools” needed. First, you will need a grill basket. I actually went out and bought a grill basket just for this recipe, but I am really excited to own it now. I can’t wait to try it out over the fire the next time I am camping. It also is handy for the grill at home. It could be used for not just fish, but anything you layer together that needs a little extra support while on the grill. Second, you will need to grab a roll of kitchen twine to help tie the filets together.
So, let’s talk ingredients. I used oranges, dill, tarragon, and parsley for my fish, but this is the type of recipe you can afford to be flexible with. Experimenting with different flavors will result in meals that taste entirely different and new, but are still just as simple and quick as the original idea. I really love recipes like that. I don’t have to learn a whole bunch of different techniques to have unique flavors on my plate. You could easily replace the oranges with tangerines, lemons, or maybe even grapefruit (I haven’t tried that, but it sounds delicious to me!). I would even dare to try a lime! The herbs could also be switched out for rosemary, thyme, oregano, or whatever else your mind can come up with!
I decided to use tarragon this time around for two reasons: it is a great accompaniment for oranges and it is, by far, my favorite herb. I love the licorice flavor, which is weird because I despise licorice the candy. Anyway, besides the tarragon, I also added dill, which is always great with fish, and parsley, which adds a fresh taste I think.
Before layering the stuffing ingredients, I cleaned all the bones out of the filets. Even though the majority of the bones were removed when the fish was fileted, there are still some that run along the middle of the filet for about half the length of each filet. You can easily feel them with your fingers and pull them out with pliers. Removing them makes for a much more enjoyable eating experience, as no one likes fishing bones out of their mouth. (No pun intended!) I also rinsed each filet.
Once the fish were clean, I salted and peppered each filet. You could also add more flavors at this step if you were interested, such as a sprinkle of garlic or onion salt. I wanted to keep things simple this time, so I just stuck with salt and pepper. Next, lay down a layer of thinly sliced oranges that run the length of the filet. The herbs are added next, and part of what makes this recipe so quick is the herbs do not needed cut or minced or anything other than just placed atop the orange slices. I used about two sprigs of each type of herb. The only thing left to do is tie the filets together in a fish sandwich and place them in the grill basket.
The grill should be pre-heated to medium high. To help prevent the fish from sticking, a little vegetable oil can be rubbed on the grate. I also rubbed the inside of the grill basket with a little oil before enclosing the fish. Once the grill is up to temperature, place the basket directly on the heat and close the lid. Set a timer for seven minutes. After seven minutes, flip the basket, close the lid, and let it cook for another seven minutes.
I could actually smell the dill and tarragon mixed with the oranges before I pulled the fish off the grill. It was heavenly! To serve, cut the kitchen twine and remove the herbs and orange slices. The filets will be flakey, fragrant, tender, and full of flavor. I served with extra orange slices for squeezing over the fish and a simple side salad. Now that is one delicious meal!
Quick and Easy: A Pike Dinner!
Doesn’t cooking dinner sometimes feel like just too much? I get that feeling much more often than I would like to admit. The idea of going grocery shopping for a bunch of ingredients, getting home and putting it all away, pulling it all back out to start cooking, slicing and dicing, preheating, mixing, stirring, and cooking while everyone is waiting to eat just sounds overwhelming sometimes.
I am a big fan of quick and simple meals, and especially ones that don’t come from a box or out of a drive-thru window. This quick grilled pike fish dinner is uncomplicated, delicious, and quick. The hardest part is deciding what side to pair it with!
Shopping is probably one of my least favorite activities. I wouldn’t say that I hate many things in life, but grocery shopping is definitely on the hate list (that and the dishes, I hate washing dishes!). This pike dinner is great because it requires that a very minimal amount of time be spent in the grocery store. The pike comes from the lake, so that cuts down on the ingredients right there. To pull this meal together, you only need to grab olive oil, a lemon, garlic, rosemary, and salt. I actually find that many times I have all these ingredients at home and can throw this dinner together without even venturing out of the house. I love when that happens!
The first step is to create the marinade for the fish. In a food processor, mix together a 1/2 cup of the olive oil, the juice from the lemon, a 1/4 cup of chopped fresh rosemary, three cloves of garlic, and a 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper. In my opinion, the best kitchen appliance is the food processor. I love when I can throw a clove of garlic in the food processor and watch it mince. My hands don’t stink like garlic, and I don’t inadvertently rub it in my eyes. I have done that many times and it burns. Totally off topic, I also was closing the bottle of some hot sauce the other day, and a drop somehow shot straight into my eye. That is not something I would recommend. It burns…really bad. So, I think we have established that I am not the most graceful of people, and I might possibly be a bit accident prone.
Anyway, cut the pike into long, two inch wide strips. This makes the fish very easy to skewer. I pour my marinade in a gallon ziploc bag with the fish and allow the marinating magic to take place. You can also place the fish in a baking dish or large bowl and add the marinade to that. As I said before, I hate dishes, and using a ziploc bag reduces the dishes by a whole pan. And as I also noted before, I am apparently a bit clumsy (hot sauce in the eye) and the ziploc insures I won’t be spilling my fishy marinade all over the fridge. Now, in a perfect world, this marinade should sit in the fridge for about eight hours. So, if you remember in the morning that you want to have the grilled fish for dinner, whip up your marinade and allow the fish to soak in it all day. However, I have made this fish many times with only letting it sit for an hour and it still works great. So, for the record: eight hours ideal; one hour still works great.
Preheat the grill to a medium-high heat. You can also brush a bit of oil on the grill, if you so desire. My fish didn’t have any problem with sticking to the grill and I didn’t use any extra oil, but if you have an issue with things sticking to the grill, you might give brushing a little oil on the grate a try. Thread your pike onto the skewers. I bought a bunch of metal skewers to use on the grill, because I had lost interest in prepping the wooden ones. The wooden ones are fine to use, and are a little cheaper than investing in metal ones. Just remember, if you are using wooden skewers you should soak them for at least thirty minutes, preferably an hour, in water. This will prevent the skewers from catching on fire while on the grill.
Once your grill is hot, place the skewers directly on the heat. Do not move them once they have touched the grate. If you try and move them around, you are at great risk for ripping your fish. Plus, you want to let your fish get those beautiful grill marks, right? Grill the first side for four to five minutes and then flip the fish once. Grill the second side for another four to five minutes. Pike meat is a little more substantial than other fish. It doesn’t really get flakey, like how I would describe a trout or walleye. The meat has a mild flavor, and it tastes best if it isn’t over-cooked or dried out.
Well, that is about it for this easy fish dinner. I served my pike skewers with a side of steamed rice and lemon slices for squeezing over my fish. Other compatible sides would be mashed potatoes with a little rosemary and garlic to help pull the two dishes together, a lemon risotto would be beautiful with this dish if you are thinking a bit more fancy, or even just a simple side salad. I think you can pair pike with either a red or white wine, since it is a more hearty fish. Enjoy and Happy Hunting!
Recipes: Salmon Burgers and Fresh Cut Fries! Mmmm Baby!
This past summer, my family drug our 180 Sea Ray lake boat from the desert to Northwest. The drive alone took over 16 hours. Once we reached our destination, the San Juan Islands, we rode a ferry from Anacortes, Washington to Orcas Island. We had a rental house on the west shore of the island and spent seven days touring the San Juans in our lake boat. It was amazing! We went crabbing, salmon fishing, searched (unsuccessfully) for whales, and even took the two hour boat ride to Victoria, Canada. My husband said we were safe, but I think he may have a death wish.
While in the San Juan Islands, we met the local legend, Popeye. Popeye is a one-eyed harbor seal who has frequented the Friday Harbor area since 1995. She is such a legend in the area, she has been named the official seal for the port and has a statue in the park near the marina. If nothing else, you should venture to the San Juans just to search for Popeye! She loves to visit.
Our trek to the Northwest supplied us with plenty of Dungeness crab and pink salmon, also known as the humpback salmon or “humpies” to the locals. Pink salmon fishing was very different compared to lake fishing. The pinks are very aggressive fish to any lure that is neon pink, but getting them in the boat is another story. They are said to have a “rubber mouth.” At first, I did not understand what this meant; however, after trying to pull one in the boat and having its lips literally rip off, I understood. Their mouth is very soft. You have to really develop a rhythm for pulling them aboard.
People also said pink salmon are good for one thing: smoking. They really did not have a very good reputation in the area. They ruin the good fishing, king salmon fishing, because, they are too numerous, bite too easy, and did not have a tasty reputation. We froze what we caught and decided to work with them when we arrived home. Once home, we cooked up a little piece to see what we were working with. Upon a single bite, I knew the perfect use for this fish: salmon burgers!
My favorite salmon burger is a ginger wasabi recipe. I love the combination of the almost sweet tasting salmon with the spicy wasabi and zesty ginger. Makes me hungry just talking about it right now. For salmon burgers, you will need about a pound and a half of salmon for four burgers. You also want to invest in a nice Kaiser bun, crispy lettuce, ripe tomatoes, good REAL wasabi, and a good companion for your burger. For our companion, I made fresh cut baked French fries.
Our salmon was fileted and still had the skin on. It is very easy to remove the salmon from the skin, as long as you have a sharp knife. You will also need to remove the pin bones using needle nose pliers. Once the salmon is removed from the skin and pin bones gone, you are ready to start working!
First, cut your filet into three rough pieces and toss it in the food processor. Pulse the salmon four or five times. You want to chop all the salmon up, but don’t pulse it so many times that you create a salmon paste. Put your salmon in a large bowl and start adding your vegetables and spices. First, chop your red bell pepper and scallions (also known as the green onion, my husband asks what scallions are every time) and drop in with your salmon. Before I move on, I just want to say the bell pepper can get juicy if you try and mince it too small. If you see a lot of excess juice from your bell peppers, try and not pour that extra juice in with your salmon because it will make for a very wet burger. Next, add your garlic, minced, and three quarters of your ginger. I bought a hand grater for two reasons. The first was to zest lemons and limes. The second reason was for ginger. Chopping up ginger is difficult, but grating ginger is easy! I would suggest getting a simple hand grater if you use ginger often, it helps. Finally, add your tamari (which is a dark soy sauce you can find in the Asian section of your grocery store), steak seasoning (my favorite is McCormick), sesame oil, and black pepper. Give everything a quick stir to combine and start forming patties!
For cooking your patties, you can either heat up a pan and grill them on the stove or you can go the barbeque route. I have done both. The pan is easier. Salmon patties tend to be a bit more juicy than beef or turkey burgers. They also tend to fall apart easier. The burgers are spatula friendly in the pan; however, the barbeque definitely adds more flavor and kicks the burger up a notch as long as you don’t drop your patties through the grill. Whichever route you choose, you want to preheat to a medium high level and drizzle your burgers with a bit of canola oil. Salmon burgers cook up relatively fast, needing only five to six minutes per side. I actually let mine go a little bit long because I like the outside to get a little crunchy. I find you can do this with a salmon burger because the patty is juicy enough to take the extra heat without completely drying out your meat.
While the burgers are cooking, you want to mix up your secret to making this a phenomenal burger instead of just an ordinary burger: ginger wasabi mayo. For the sauce, you simply combine your mayonnaise, wasabi, the rest of your grated ginger, and lime juice. The key to this sauce is using real wasabi! It adds some serious heat to the burger, but in a good way. Since wasabi can make your sauce INCREDIBLY hot, I would suggest adding half the recommended amount and building for your own taste from there.
Now, for the companion to your salmon burger, fresh cut baked French fries. You will need to start your potatoes early. The earlier the better. I used russet potatoes for my fries, but Yukon works well also. The key to great homemade fries is soaking them in water. Clean your potatoes like you normally would and cut them up how you like them. After your fries are cut, place them in a water bath. You want to start the fries in the water bath at least two hours before you plan on baking them. I say at least two hours, but the longer the better, so you can start them the night before even, if you remember. Soaking the fries in water releases starches from the potatoes, resulting in a crispier fry! You can also use this technique for frying. After the potatoes have soaked, be sure to dry them off before seasoning and putting them in the oven.
Before cooking your fries, pour a little canola oil over them. I like to sprinkle mine with the steak seasoning used in the salmon burgers, but you can also use just salt and pepper. Get your hands down in there and really mix that oil, coating all the fries. Place the fries in a 400 degree preheated oven and let them go at least 25 minutes. If you want crispier fries, you can let them go 30 or even 35 minutes, just be sure to keep an eye on them.
It’s time to plate up! Take your salmon patty and place it on your Kaiser bun, which you can heat up on your griddle if you are looking for a little extra crunch. Add a piece of lettuce, a slice of tomato, an onion if you are so inclined, and a nice drop of your ginger wasabi mayo! Sounds great, right?
I had to think about what I wanted to pair with this meal. Salmon burgers have tons of flavor. At first, I thought about adding a beverage that wouldn’t take away from the flavor of the fish; however, after I read around and thought about it, I decided I wanted a wine or beer that had enough flavor to stand on its own but also compliment the salmon. For wine, I would suggest a pinot grigio or Riesling. If you are a red person, I would go with a pinot noir. I had to go with my very favorite wine for this meal, Kung Fu Girl! Kung Fu Girl is a Riesling made in, how appropriate is this, Washington. It has a mildly sweet taste. This wine is extremely aromatic, something I really enjoy in a wine. You can easily detect the Asian pear, peach and floral scents. I think it has a mild taste of apple, but that may just be me.
For a beer, I went with Kirin Ichiban. Kirin is a pale lager. I have had it primarily at sushi restaurants. It pairs nicely with fish, particularly the salmon, and it holds up really well to the wasabi flavor. A few other beers I would recommend are Sapporo, Tsingtao, and Asahi. They are also beers I think hold up well to the spice and zest of wasabi and ginger.
* 1 1/2 pounds salmon filets
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 3 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
* 3 tablespoons tamari
* 2 scallions, chopped
* red bell pepper, chopped
* 2 teaspoons sesame oil
* 2 teaspoons steak seasoning
* black pepper
* 1 tablespoon canola oil
Ginger Wasabi Sauce
* 3/4 cup mayonnaise
* 2 tablespoons wasabi paste
* 1 lime, juiced
The Final Touches
* Kaiser bun
Recipes: Cookin’ Up that BlueGill and Large Mouth Bass!!!!
I don’t like fish! I am the first to admit it! I hate fish. First, it smells like fish! The texture is just like I would imagine fish would be like: mushy! And it tastes like fish! UNLESS, you eat fresh fish you caught yourself the day before. Now I LOVE fish! After my day out on the pond catching bluegill and large mouth bass, I have learned that I am a fish lover! Who knew? The key to being a fish lover is to eat FRESH fish, not just shipped in and been sitting in the freezer section of the grocery store fish, but fish you caught and cleaned yourself over the weekend. It is delicious!
So, let me share with you how I prepared this excellent fish. After a much heated debate, our group of fisherman decided on fish tacos!
When looking for a great fish taco recipe, the sauce is key! The sauce makes the taco. I searched the internet high and low for a great sounding fish taco sauce, and the one I went with is fantastic. This is a great fish taco that won’t disappoint even your most critical taster.
So, after you have cleaned the fish, a task I have yet to master, you want to batter the fish. As with battering most anything, the key is to place the meat in a flour bath first. Flour will help the batter to stick to the meat better. After the flour bath, place the filets in the beer batter. When preparing your beer batter, first mix up your flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. After that is mixed together, quickly blend in your one egg and cup of beer. I used our Pabst beer from the day before, but any lager or ale will work nicely. Dunk your filets, let the excess drip off, and drop your filet in the hot oil.
The oil should be preheated on the stove to 375F degrees. You can test your oil by placing a drop of batter into the oil and seeing if it starts to fry. If it takes too long to get started bubbling, your oil is too cold. If it fries to a dark blob immediately, your oil is too hot. When frying the filets, you want to make sure to place only a couple of pieces into the oil at a time. Putting more than three or four filets at a time will drop the temperature of your oil and this will result in the fish coming out gushy. We are looking for a crunchy and golden brown finished product. Let the fish fry for two to three minutes, rotating in the oil to make sure you get both sides. After you have reached a beautiful golden brown crust, let it dry on a paper towel.
As I said before, the key to a great fish taco is the sauce. This sauce is superb! You start with mixing your half a cup of mayonnaise and plain yogurt. You could also use a Greek yogurt if you are so inclined. I decided upon a plain yogurt because I like the texture the combination of mayonnaise and yogurt creates. Be sure your yogurt is plain, a flavored yogurt, such a vanilla, could make things taste pretty funny. After you have whisked together your base, you want to start adding the true flavors of the sauce. The spices are added first: oregano, cumin, dill and cayenne. After that is mixed together good add the lime juice, capers, and jalapenos. This sauce sounds super funny, with its mixing of Italian and Cajun seasonings, but it is fantastic!
Plating up your fish taco is simple. First, you want to fry up your tortilla. I went with guerrero tortillas. They are my all time favorite tortillas. I like them because they can get crunchy without completely breaking apart. When you fry up the tortillas you want to make sure to only let them go for a minute in the oil. I know! I know! The tendency is to let them get crispy brown and beautiful in the oil…but NO! Stop yourself! This will ruin your taco. You want it to just barely cook the tortilla but still allow for flexibility! Be VERY careful! After your tortilla is perfect, add your fish filet, a handful of shredded cabbage, a pinch of jicama, and a spoonful of your excellent sauce! It will be so GREAT! We made a side of black beans and white rice! Slice up a lime to squeeze all over and you will have yourself a perfect meal.
No meal is complete without a perfect beverage pairing! Ordinarily I would have a wine and beer choice for a meal, but this meal requires only one! BEER! And a light coastal beer is what you are looking for. I went with the Land Shark. I find it to be perfect with this meal. It adds a freshness without taking away from any of the flavor from the tacos. You don’t even want to have a beer glass! Straight from the bottle is what you are looking for with this meal! You could also do a Corona Light, if you are interested, but I would recommend you give the Land Shark a try! Perfect end to a day of fishing!
Happy Fishing my Friends!
Beer Batter for Fish
* 1 cup flour
* 2 tablespoons cornstarch
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 egg
* 1 cup beer
Dip filets in flour. Mix together corn starch, baking powder, salt, egg, and beer. Dip filets in beer batter
Sauce for Tacos
* 1/2 cup plain yogurt
* 1/2 cup mayonnaise
* 1 lime, juiced
* 1 jalapeno, minced
* 1 teaspoon capers, minced
* 1/2 teaspoon cumin
* 1/2 teaspoon oregano
* 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 1/2 teaspoon dill
Mix together yogurt and mayonnaise. Add lime, jalapeno, capers, cumin, oregano, cayenne, and dill
The Final Touches
* package of corn tortillas
* shredded cabbage
* shredded jicama