3 great ways to enjoy fish
There's nothing like a good shorelunch. Try these methods to get the most from your catch
To me, a fishing trip just isn’t complete without a freshly cooked shorelunch—it’s one of those quintessentially Canadian experiences. At midday, fishing parties can relax and enjoy the daily special of just-caught fish, rounded off with potatoes, Spanish onions, creamed corn, pork and beans and other treats. Sometimes, a shorelunch is as much a highlight of a backcountry outing as the fishing itself. That is, of course, if you take the time to properly prepare your catch.
The best fresh fish for a shorelunch are medium-sized lake trout, pike and walleye. If you’re going to deep-fry the fillets, it’s best to first cut them into cubes so they cook quickly and thoroughly—ditto if you’ll be wrapping them in aluminum foil. Leave the skin on, however, if you’re planning to grill your fillets over a red-hot bed of campfire coals. With that, here are my three favourite ways to flash up some fresh fillets.
Put a few tablespoons of all-purpose flour in a plastic bag, add salt and pepper, to taste, and a blend of your favourite spices. For example, I use various combinations of onion and garlic powders, dill seed, peppercorn, oregano, paprika and thyme. You can also use store-bought seasoning spices such as McCormick’s Lemon & Pepper, Old Bay Seasoning, Cavender’s All Purpose Greek Seasoning or Mrs. Dash Original Seasoning Blend, which also works well with grilled fish. (Note: these same spices can also be added to the fillets cooked in foil.) Next, place the cubed fish in the bag and dredge with the flour mixture. Add a ½ inch of vegetable oil (or canola) to a cast iron skillet and heat over the campfire coals until it bubbles. Place the dredged fillets in the oil in small batches, and deep-fry for a few minutes; they’ll turn golden brown and flake when they’re ready.
Place fillets skin-side down on a grill over a bed of hot coals, then season with your favourite spices. I’ve also used Knorr’s Herb & Garlic marinade, as well as salad dressings such as Hidden Valley’s Original Ranch or Kraft’s Catalina. Next, cover the fillets with foil or an aluminum roasting pan and grill for about 15 minutes. You can also place the fillets inside a hand-held grill to cook them over the coals, turning them every 2 to 3 minutes.
Spread pre-cut hash browns and a diced Spanish onion on a large double layer of foil; top with a layer of well-seasoned, cubed fillets, then add 2 cans of sliced mushrooms, 1 can of cream of mushroom soup and ¼ cup of butter. Fold the foil over top of everything and roll up the edges to ensure a tight seal. Place fish-side down on a grill over a bed of hot coals. Bake until the foil puffs out—about 20 minutes total—turning the package every 2 to 3 minutes (use gloves). Open up, dish up and eat up.
Deep-fried sliced potatoes—or pre-cut hash brown potatoes and sliced onions, fried in butter or vegetable oil—are a standard shorelunch side dish, along with cans of pork and beans and creamed corn, heated on a grill. Almost any brand of beans or corn does the job for me. I’m usually famished by the time the chow’s ready, what with all the fresh air, and looking for a calories fix.
I enjoy either iced tea, cold beer or steaming hot coffee when feasting on a shorelunch, depending on what the weather’s doing. I’ve even been known to have a dram of Scotch on occasion to toast the cook. Then it’s time to kick back and enjoy whatever goes for dessert while the scent of wood smoke hangs in the air.
This article was originally published on July 12, 2008