From Hooked to Cooked!
REEL OBSESSION Dishes On the Best Ways to Cook Your Catch
After a long day spent fishing, one of the best rewards is sitting down before a crackling campfire and preparing dinner centered around your fresh catch. But how best to cook fish outdoors? We share three of the most popular methods.
Frying is perhaps the most classic and popular method of cooking fish outdoors. It’s simple and quick, and yields moist, flavorful fish.
What You Need: Cooking grate, spatula, frying pan (cast iron, or any pan with a flame-resistant handle).
What’s Cooking: Cleaned fish, cut into fillets; oil for frying, breadcrumbs (optional), desired seasoning (e.g., salt, pepper, other spices), lemon wedges (optional), tartar sauce (optional)
How-To: Coat the fillets in breadcrumbs and seasoning, as desired. Once the campfire is going, set a cooking grate over it. Place the pan on the grate, and add enough oil to generously coat the bottom. After the oil is heated, place the fillets in the pan, flipping them somewhat frequently (it may be difficult to gauge the heat of the campfire, and you don’t want to overcook them). Once the breading or the exterior of the fillet browns, remove one fillet to check for doneness. When the flesh is white and flakes easily, your fillets are ready. Serve with lemon wedges and sauce, if desired.
Foil-packet fish can be a camper’s best bet. The fish and any accompanying seasonings and vegetables are wrapped tightly in foil packets and placed in indirect heat on a campfire’s coals to cook. This method doesn’t require pots, pans, or even dinner plates, so cleanup is a snap.
What You Need: Small mixing bowl, heavy-duty foil (so the foil has less chance of ripping and exposing food to coals and ashes). You’ll need a piece of foil about twice as long as the food you’ll be wrapping). If you plan to eat your food straight from the packet, it’s a good idea to double up and use two layers.
What’s Cooking: Cleaned fish, cut into fillets; cooking spray; chopped onion; melted butter; lemon juice; salt and pepper; other spices as desired (parsley, paprika, dill); cut-up vegetables (zucchini, carrots, etc.) if desired.
How-To: Spray the surface of the foil with cooking spray, then place the chopped onion on the foil sheet. Put the fillet atop the onion. In a separate bowl, mix melted butter, a dash of lemon juice, and spices, and pour over fish. Wrap the fillet in a flat packet by bringing the long sides together and creasing, making a tight fold that is flattened over the fish. Then tightly roll up the shorter sides until they meet the food. Place the packet on hot coals (indirect heat) and scoop some hot coals on top of it as well. Cook for 15-20 minutes.
Boiling is another a classic and simple method for preparing fish camp-side, especially if members of your group are not big seafood lovers. It softens the flavor of the fish, making it mild and palatable to even finicky eaters.
What You Need: A pot large enough to submerge several fish fillets; cooking grate; fresh water.
What’s Cooking: Cleaned and gutted fish. You may leave the skin on, if desired, because it helps preserve the fish oils while cooking. Fresh, cold water. Lemon wedges, butter, and any dry seasonings (salt, pepper, etc.) for serving.
How-To: Once your campfire is going, place a pot of clean water over it, atop a cooking grate. After the water comes to a boil, throw in the prepped fish. To determine when the fish is done, remove one piece and test with a fork or knife. If the meat is white and flakes easily, it’s ready.
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