By Craig W. Armstong
Reeling in the big ones is nothing new to you. You’ve been fishing since grandpa taught you how and you know your way around a body of water. But can you cook what you catch? Sure you can take your catch home and have your spouse prepare it, but can you cook your catch while still at the fishing hole? If you’re more of a fish eater than a fish preparer, here are few tips for cooking fish on an open fire.
You’ll need a fire, and safety always comes first. Make sure a fire is allowed where you plan to start it. Make sure it’s far from a wooded area or any dry foliage that could catch fire. Starting a forest fire would be a nightmare and it could happen, so use your head with building your fire.
It’s best to create a barrier between your fire and the rest of the world. This can be done by creating a short rock wall around it. You can also create a wall with green logs, as long as you keep it wet. This wall structure will also somewhat block the wind. Wind is another safety concern, keep an eye on it and make sure it doesn’t spread your fire.
Starting fire starts with kindling. This means paper and/or dry twigs. Start small and grow your fire. Layer your kindling while alternating directions. Do not build your kindling in a teepee shape. Once the kindling is burning, add more and finally bigger pieces of wood and finally logs. One last word about fire safety, keep a fire extinguisher or at least a bucket of water handy, just in case.
Next you will need to clean your catch. If you are a fisherman, you are probably familiar with this process. The main ways to prepare the meat for cooking is either in the form of a filet or a steak. Filets are lateral cuts of meat and steaks, and usually the cut for larger fish are perpendicular cuts. These chunks are usually ? inch to an inch thick.
How you cook your fish will determine your next step. The three basic ways are to fry, boil or cook over an open flame. Any method will require a cooking base. This means using stones, bricks or concrete blocks that is on both sides of the fire. From there you will need a metal grill to place onto of the blocks.
If you’re frying, you will need a frying pan and oil. If you are boiling, a pot and water and if grilling, you’ll need foil.
For frying, once the oil is heated in your pan, place the breaded filets in the oil and cook to a golden brown. For boiling, get your water to a boil, drop in your fish and cook. You’ll know when they are done with the meat flakes apart. For cooking on the grill, wrap the meat in foil, adding lemon, salt and pepper or whatever you choose. Continue to flip the foil packs until the meat is cooked, again, flaky means done.
Cooking your catch in the great outdoors can be the perfect end to the perfect day. So don’t think the fishing trip ends when you reel them in, it ends when you plate them up.