No matter how you prepare your fresh fish for the dinner table, be sure to clean your catch and get it on ice or into a cooler in a timely fashion.
We often catch a mess of trout to eat and love this method of preparation. It works great with salmon fillets, too. <em>1 fish per serving.</em> <br> <b>INGREDIENTS</b> <br>• Any number of pan-dressed trout, about 1 pound each <br>• Extra-virgin olive oil <br>• Minced garlic <br>• Lemon-pepper spice <br> <b>DIRECTIONS:</b> Rub the fish with olive oil, then sprinkle with garlic and lemon-pepper. Place on a hot grill and allow to cook until the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Turn only once during cooking, but run a metal spatula under the fish every couple of minutes to be sure they don’t stick. Allow one fish per serving.
Your dinner guests’ eyes will get big when you lay one of these thick hero sandwiches in front of them, but there probably won’t be a scrap left. While the toppings listed are my favorites, I usually serve a variety—including tartar sauce, Vidalia onion, spinach leaves, cucumbers and tomatoes, and an assortment of pickles and cheeses—so everyone can build it like they like it. <em>Serves 6.</em> <br> <b>INGREDIENTS</b> <br>• 6 large crusty rolls <br>• 1 cup ketchup <br>• 3 dashes Tabasco sauce <br>• 1 tablespoon prepared mustard <br>• 1 tablespoon onion, minced <br>• 6 fried panfish fillets (12 if they’re small) <br>• Dill pickles, sliced <br>• Shredded lettuce <br> <b>DIRECTIONS:</b> Cut the rolls in half lengthwise and scoop out the soft centers, then place them in the oven until hot but not crispy. Combine ketchup, Tabasco, mustard and onion. Spread this mixture on a hot roll, and then top with a fish fillet (two if they’re small), dill pickles, lettuce and the top of the roll.
Some cooks frown on microwave cookery, complaining that bland dishes result from this method of cooking. But if you don’t overcook it, fresh fish leaves the microwave flaky and moist, and the addition of proper accompaniments creates a savory dish like this belly-warming chowder. <em>Serves 4 to 6.</em> <br> <b>INGREDIENTS</b> <br>• 1/2 cup green onions, chopped <br>• 1/4 cup chicken broth <br>• 1 pound lean, white fish fillets, cut into bite-sized pieces <br>• 1 (24-ounce) can vegetable juice cocktail <br>• 1 (12-ounce) can whole kernel corn with sweet red peppers, drained <br>• 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce <br>• 1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce <br> <b>DIRECTIONS:</b> In a 2-quart, microwave-safe dish, combine green onion and chicken broth. Cover and microwave on high for 2 minutes or until onion is tender. Add remaining ingredients, cover and cook on high for eight to 10 minutes or until fish flakes with a fork and chowder is heated through. Stir twice while cooking.
When making these scrumptious fish cakes, adjust the ingredients if necessary to be sure they are just moist enough to hold together, but not so moist they fall apart when cooked. Don’t mess with the cakes while cooking or they’ll break apart. Flip once. <em>Serves 4 to 6.</em> <br> <b>INGREDIENTS</b> <br>• 1/2 cup vegetable oil <br>• 1 tablespoon green pepper, chopped <br>• 4 tablespoons green onion, chopped <br>• 1 pound fish fillets, cooked and flaked <br>• 1 egg, beaten <br>• 1 tablespoon mayonnaise <br>• 6 tablespoons dry bread crumbs <br>• 1 teaspoon dry mustard <br>• 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper <br>• 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper <br>• 1 teaspoon seasoned salt <br> <b>DIRECTIONS:</b> Sauté green pepper and green onion in 2 tablespoons of oil until soft. Drain. Mix with remaining ingredients. Chill for at least 20 minutes. Form into patties and cook in the remaining oil until golden brown on each side. Serve with Dijon sauce. <br> <br> <b>Dijon Sauce</b> <br> <b>INGREDIENTS</b> <br>• 1/2 cup plain yogurt <br>• 3 tablespoons dry mustard <br>• 1/4 cup mayonnaise <br>• 1 tablespoon green onion, chopped <br>• 2 tablespoons dill pickle relish <br>• 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar <br> <b>DIRECTIONS:</b> Mix all ingredients and chill until ready to serve. When ready serve at room temperature.
This Cajun recipe is a real crowd pleaser. You can make it fiery hot by seasoning the fish heavily with the blackening spice and Tony Chachere’s seasoning, or use less of these ingredients if you prefer less spiciness. We especially like this with redfish, drum and other firm-meated favorites. <em>Serves 4.</em> <br> <b>INGREDIENTS</b> <br>• 4 (8-ounce) fish fillets <br>• Blackening spice (available in the supermarket spice section) <br>• 4 tablespoons butter <br>• 2 (10¾-ounce) cans condensed cream of shrimp soup <br>• 1 soup can of half-and-half <br>• 1 pound crawfish tails, peeled and cooked <br>• 1-2 tablespoons Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning <br>• Fresh parsley for garnish, chopped <br> <b>DIRECTIONS:</b> Season the fish fillets to taste with the blackening spice. Heat the butter in a large non-stick skillet until bubbly, then add the fish one piece at a time and sauté until crispy on the outside. Add more butter to the skillet if necessary and cook the remaining pieces of fish. Transfer to a warm plate. While the fish is cooking, prepare the sauce in a non-stick saucepan by combining the remaining ingredients (except the garnish) and heating over low heat until warmed through, stirring constantly. Do not allow to boil. Serve the fish hot with a ladle full of sauce poured over each piece. Garnish, if desired, with parsley.
Ceviche is a uniquely American dish enormously popular in South America, Mexico and the Caribbean. The chemical process that occurs when the citric acid comes in contact with the fish is similar to what happens when the fish is cooked and the flesh becomes opaque and firm. The fish is not actually cooked, but the resulting dish is tasty indeed. Always use freshly caught fish, and, if you like, add fresh shrimp or scallops for a special treat. <em>Serves 4.</em> <br> <b>INGREDIENTS</b> <br>• 1 cup lemon juice <br>• 1 cup lime juice <br>• 1 pound fresh fish fillets, diced in 1/8-inch cubes <br>• 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped <br>• 2 tomatoes, quartered, seeded and cut in small strips <br>• 1 small purple onion, chopped <br>• 1 jalapeño pepper, finely diced <br> <b>DIRECTIONS:</b> Mix the lemon and lime juices in a large bowl. Reserve half for the final preparation. Combine the remaining half with the diced fish in a non-metallic bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight. The next day, combine the cilantro, tomato, onion and jalapeño pepper in a mixing bowl. Stir in the fish pieces after straining them and discarding all the marinating juices. Stir in the remaining 1 cup of lemon/lime juice, and refrigerate for four hours. Drain the marinade and arrange the ceviche in four equal portions in bowls or on salad plates. Garnish with citrus fruit slices. Serve with crackers or tortilla chips.
Many people are under the mistaken impression that stripers, white bass and other temperate bass don’t make good table fare. Not so. If the fish are iced immediately after catching and all dark red flesh is removed, the resulting fillets are delicious in many recipes, including this favorite. <em>Serves 4-6.</em> <br> <b>INGREDIENTS</b> <br>• 5 pounds of striper, white bass or similar fillets <br>• 1 (16-ounce) package Louisiana Crawfish, Crab & Shrimp Boil <br>• Water <br> <b>DIRECTIONS:</b> Mix the boil spices into a large pot of water according to package directions, then bring to a boil. Turn off the heat, then add the fish fillets to the pot (a wire basket makes their removal easier) and allow to cook until tender and flaky. Serve with melted butter to dip the fish in, and some previously cooked corn on the cob and new potatoes on the side. Tastes almost as good as real crab!
This easy-to-make dish makes the most of the delicate flavor of flounder, speckled trout, bluegills, crappie or catfish. We cook it in the oven, but it’s adaptable for cooking in a black-iron skillet or foil wrap to make a shore lunch your fishing buddies will never forget. <em>Serves 2 to 4.</em> <br> <b>INGREDIENTS</b> <br>• 1 tablespoon butter <br>• 1 pound fish fillets <br>• 1 lemon <br>• 1 teaspoon each parsley, chives and rosemary, chopped <br> <b>DIRECTIONS:</b> Melt the butter and pour into a shallow baking dish. Arrange the fish fillets in the dish. Cut the lemon in half, and squeeze about 1 tablespoon of lemon juice over the fillets. Sprinkle with the herbs. Slice the remaining lemon half into thin slices, and arrange the slices on top of the fish. Bake in a preheated 450-degree oven for 12 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
This makes a delicious meal when you’re in a hurry and cooking for two. Preparation is quick and simple. For more dinner guests, just compound the amount of ingredients. <em>Serves 2.</em> <br> <b>INGREDIENTS</b> <br>• 1 pound fish fillets <br>• 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce <br>• 2 tablespoons lemon juice <br>• 1 garlic clove, crushed <br>• 1/2 teaspoon paprika <br>• 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper <br>• 6 cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise (optional) <br>• 2 green onions (optional) <br> <b>DIRECTIONS:</b> Combine Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, garlic, paprika and pepper, and pour over fish fillets placed in a single layer in a large baking dish. Marinate in the refrigerator for two hours. Transfer fish to a large sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Fold up the sides of the foil to form a rim. Pour the marinade over the fish. Garnish with tomato halves and green onions. Grill over medium heat for five minutes or until the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork at the thickest part.
Drive past any lake, river or beach and chances are great you’ll see people, often entire families, gathered along the shore or in boats fishing. Fishing is one of America’s most popular pastimes, something in which people of all ages can participate. It’s an activity that 46 million Americans enjoy each year as a way to have fun together and spend time outdoors.
Many people go fishing for the thrill of the catch or a peaceful escape. For some, however, those things are just bonuses. They go fishing because they like to eat fish. And the fish they like most are those they caught themselves, fresh from their favorite fishing holes. You probably know you should be eating fish twice a week. Fish are a lean, healthy source of protein, and oily kinds, such as salmon and trout, deliver the heart- and brain-healthy omega-3 fats you need in your diet.
Along with immediate health benefits, eating fish also helps to prevent a long list of diseases, from cancer to heart disease, depression to arthritis, making the consumption of fish well worth your time.
Remember, the shorter the time from hook to cook, the better the flavor. And in summer, always put fish on ice immediately after you catch them so they taste their best. The most important rule when preparing fish is never to overcook it. It’s naturally tender and cooks quickly. When you test the thickest part with a fork and it flakes easily, it’s ready to serve.
All you need now are some recipes to try. That’s where we can help. The following tried-and-true methods of preparation will enable you to cook delicious fish your family and friends will rave about. Unless otherwise noted, they’re suited to almost any kind of fish you might catch. Bon appétit!
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This article was originally published in The NEW PIONEER™ Spring 2016 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.
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