Archive for the ‘Fish’ Category

Crispy Perch Roe



Some Grant MacEwan University students were at my house the other day doing a photo doc about me, and my dad showed up with a box of 9 perch he’d caught. One of them was a giant 14.5″ long [the fish, not the student], and weighed 830g. The roe sac in the thing was giant, filling my open hand. In fact, every single one of them was female, and I removed all the roe sacs, adding up to a whopping half-kilo+ of perch roe. That’s a lot of roe. What on earth was I going to do with that much roe.

The man who guided me last month for Episode 26, and as a consequence got me hooked on this ice fishing thing [I've gone every single week since then], suggested frying the roe until crispy. Sounded interesting – I’d only ever cooked roe until just done. Crispy things, generally speaking, are tasty. As it turns out, fish eggs take a long time to get crispy – but they do. They also pop all over, many an egg making an escape from the pan like popcorn might do without a lid. I recommend covering the pan with a screen. I added a bit of red  onion, salt, and it definitely benefited from some pepper. Happened to have some re-fried mashed potato to go with it, and those to things get along. Fried eggs and potatoes, outside the box. The cous-cous-like fish eggs kind of end up like a fried breadcrumb topping, which is very pleasant. I would do this again, but would love to try it when there are fresh chives, parsley, maybe some chervil in the garden to finish and toss them with. More roe R&D is on its way soon.

Crispy perch eggs on potato

Ice Fishing Fail


Ice Fishing Hole

When small, the photo on the left looks strikingly like a giant storm of doom shot from space. But it’s just an ice hole. An ice hole that hardly had a line put down it this morning, because, as I was fated to learn, small children have no attention span for ice fishing. Which is cool. I brought other stuff to do – books, sand toys, food, etc. No dice. My 3 year old complained the entire time, starting before arrival. Too cold, wanted mommy, wanted to go home. What I fail to understand is that on the way home, after essentially ruining everybody else’s morning complaining and crying, she declares: ‘I love ice fishing!’. I don’t understand.

The lake we went to is one that’s aerated and stocked with 40,000 trout a year. Figured that might result in some coolness. Nope. Not a bite. Although when you let the toddlers choose their lures, and spend zero time manning a line, you’re not exactly setting yourself up for success. To make things worse, unlike the last time I went ice fishing [Episode 26], we couldn’t see anything much beyond the hole. For whatever reason, the water’s murkier. I’ll choose a lake I can see into, every time. Just a matter of figuring which ones those are exactly. Thankfully the lake was close to the city, it was a beautiful morning, and all my new ice fishing gear worked out a treat. Couldn’t have sucked too bad, as I’m going to a different lake tomorrow. Without the 3-year-old.

Ice Fishing - Hasse Lake

Episode 26: Smoke & Ice


I grew up hunting and gardening, abandoned them both as a young adult, then fell in love with both again later in life. Apparently, same goes for ice fishing. I have semi-fond memories of exhausty ski-doo-trailer rides on to the lake, sitting on a pail getting blasted by the elements, eye lashes freezing together, not catching much of anything, getting cold, and hearing stories about how at one time you caught way more and way bigger fish. When you’re a kid, those kind of stories are far from any form of consolation.

A friend of mine [who I met when shooting another video, coincidentally] invited me out ice fishing with him and a co-worker of his, and I just couldn’t say no. It’s January. In my usually busy food world, action had slowed. Gardening season was over. Hunting season was over. But ice fishing is just getting started. And I had a blast, despite it being a particularly slow day. Ice fishing is immeasurably more enjoyable when you’re protected from the elements in a shack, and more importantly, can see down the hole to watch the fish swim about. Add to that some camaraderie and wild-food action – I now get why folks enjoy it. I’m hooked. I want to go again.

Music courtesy of The AwesomeHots

Dinner Party Menu

A breakdown of the menu for some new friends that came by for dinner last night. Excluding the first course – a salad from the garden…forgot the photo. The first three courses were paired with an alsatian riesling, the following 3 with a right-bank bordeaux. Overall, a lovely night:

berkshire tenderloin on white bean purée, crispy sage
pickled whitefish, dill & chervil
seared antelope, fleur de sel, baby italian parsley
korean kalbi-style antelope on rice
camembert on lovely bread our guests made
chocolate espresso swirl cheesecake with vanilla latté

Pickerel Night

In a belated celebration of my brother’s birthday, we did a tasting menu of very fresh lake pickerel, paired with Tuborg and a 2006 Zind Humbrecht Turckheim Gewurztraminer [favorite white varietal of the birthday boy]. It was a heady lovely wine on the nose – showing honeyed apricot and pear. But it lacked in the palate department, both in structure and in concentration, so most dishes paired well with the beer better than the wine. The first dish on the left was pan fried, intentionally raw inside – which didn’t end up working out on the texture side – a bit ‘stringy’ and dense. Knowing that, the following dishes turned out very, very nicely.
pickerel ceviche on spinach leaves

wild onion grilled side of pickerel with crispy skin
pickerel stuffed with herbs en papillote
beer battered deep fried pickerel
pickerel ice cream with pluot sauce [kidding]
A memorable night as the food was particularly solid, and after a few drinks I was in a ranty, ‘assertive’ [read 'confrontational'] mood. Always good for some lively discussion.

Crab & German Riesling – not so much?

Beautiful evening al fresco. 8lbs of crab, and 2 bottles of German riesling – one being a memorably heady and superbly structured 1976 Auslese. Add a sprinkling of bulgar salad, wood-fire grilled veg and honey-garlic apple-smoked pork chops + some interesting beers with good friends. I wish I could say it was blockbuster, as it reads well on paper, but unfotunately it was an evening generally fated to ‘meh’s and critique.

Years ago it hit me with music. Then almost with wine. Now with food? There’s a great quote in Mondovino from a senior Wine Spectator guy referring to the cost of reguarly subjecting something you love to disection and critique – it inevitably damaging your love for whatever it is you’re scrutinizing. Getting stuck analyzing the minutae and generally missing the bigger picture. I have some work to do to avoid going down that road with food.

Pickled White Fish

Apologies for the post-sparseness – with spring finally arriving, my ambitious gardening plans have me leaping into action every spare moment I have. I’d be staining my fence right now were it not raining.

Pickled fish. I fall into a rare category of ‘like’ with pickled fish, as most are solidly in ‘love’ or ‘hate’ camps – most having the hate on. And honestly, I get it. Mushy fishyness isn’t my bag either. But this is not that.

One day, a farmer who pickles white fish by this recipe visited my dad. My dad is in the ‘love’ camp, and quickly declared it the best he’d ever had. My goose-hunting-uncle, also in the same ‘love’ camp, declared the same. My dad had a connection with a commercial whitefish fisherman [I didn't know that existed]. And the mission was on to pickle a whack of white fish. Not so much my mission, but one that I eagerly jumped on board for.

So a couple weeks ago, I was in my dad’s garage helping fillet about 100 lbs of fish. It was then salt cured. Then spent a few days in vinegar. Then two weeks in the final brine with some onion. The result? First, and foremost – a pleasant texture. Certainly the best that I too, have had. And nearly as important, it has no fishiness, but a very bright, acidic, pickle flavor that is also very pleasant. Good thing. Cause it looks like I have a few quarts of pickled fish to eat…

Wild Ocean Char Night

A few months ago, I had the good fortune of putting together a long menu using Yukon fresh water char. Fortunately for me, the friend who supplied the char was food-geeky enough to be compelled to go quite out of his way to hook us up with a bigger, fattier char: the wild ocean char. So he did.

I am sad to say that I do not have a photo essay of courses. I wish I had. It’s a shame. There were many. We ate it raw in a variety of preparations. Did some lightly charred. Lightly poached. Grilled. Baked. Cured and smoked – a crowd pleaser. We made a chowder again because it was so damn good last time. The bottom line is that the fish was indeed far huger, copiously fattier. A lot of tastiness going on. It’s a fish worth celebrating when you have one. So we did.

Evil Smoked Farmed Steelhead Trout

One of my new year’s resolutions: more fish. So far, I’d say I’ve hit the mark as this is the third batch of smoked fish this week! First atlantic salmon, then ocean char, this time: farmed steelhead trout.

Yes, farmed. And yes, I have mixed feelings about farmed fishes. Clearly, practices and methods can get dodgy. Mucking about with the ocean’s delicate ecosystems just seems intuitively wrong, and there certainly seems to be an endless list of terrible things various sources claim about farmed fish. Somehow, they’re still freely available for purchase, which makes me question if the science backs the doom and gloom.

But from a ‘hate it cause it’s not as good as wild on the table’ – there I don’t agree. I kind of wish it DID underperform, to tell you the truth – give me a solid reason to avoid it. I do love my wild salmon. But much like with other meats, I am in the camp that tends to appreciate fat. And a fish that doesn’t move much – much like a cow that doesn’t move much – sure puts on the fat! Secondly, I’m a cheapass – partly by choice and partly by necessity. I also use hyphons a lot.

So since I was doing evil deeds eating evil fat, from evil farmed fish, I figured I’d add insult to injury and brine it in some evil salt and evil sugar, then add some evil smoke carcinogens to the mix. I’d share the recipe for my evilness, but I got the cure recipe from a close source and havn’t asked permission to share. What I can tell you, is there’s smoke in it.