Archive for the ‘Fish’ Category

Sleep? Char? Char.

Rather than sliding into bed at my usual time last night to do some reading, I was just getting started on an 8+ course, 3 wine pairing dinner with friends. What else does one do when a guest arrives from the arctic, bearing fresh-water char?

next: the 8 courses, and some thoughts on working with the fish

Fish N Chips: Northern Pike, Take II


What does one do with oil that has been dirtied with deep fried fish? Make more deep fried fish. That, and store it outside in the meantime, as there are far more pleasant odors to have lingering in your kitchen.

For the potato debaters in yesterday’s comments: today’s were red norlands. I liked them better. Maybe it was the oil temp, maybe not. Didn’t have russets, as we didn’t grow any last year.

Yesterday I was maintaining my oil temperature at a 4-5 setting on my electric range. I normally deep fry on gas outdoors, so this is new to me. Today I held my oil at 7-7.5. Notice the golden crispiness? I knew yesterday’s execution was weak at the time, and figured I knew why, so it was satisfying to step it up many notches tonight.

It was also superior because of the Tuborg and Pilsner Urquell. What a fine pairing, greasy food and beer. They helped with the batter, which I eyeballed rather than following a recipe. Here’s roughly what it was:

Beer Batter
About 2/3 of a 1/2 liter can of Tuborg that I dropped on the floor, open, which proceeded to foam all over our kitchen floor, requiring significant cleanup, and making my socks stick to the floor afterwards.
Tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
I added flour a little at a time until the consistency was like a heavy crepe or loose pancake batter. I figure maybe 1/3-1/2 cup. I mixed with a fork just enough to blend, and to try to preserve some of my drop-on-the-floor-foam-achievement. Bubbles in the batter are good.

It is worth noting that my wife and I found the Northern Pike a little too soft for deep frying, relative to say cod or even pickerel. So it won’t go very high on the list of ‘favorite fish for deep frying’. And yes, we’ve done halibut, and for the record, in my opinion, halibut is too firm. [I really don't get why people freak out about it, to be honest]

Fish N Chips: Northern Pike


It’s good to have ‘sources’. Today, a whole 8 lb Northern Pike found its way into my kitchen. After much gutting, skinning, and deboning [boning being the correct term, but deboning sounds less vulgar, no?], I had a good platter full of fresh fish to play with. And a copious collection of veg oil that I didn’t want to bring with me on our impending move. So:deep fried northern pike with yukon gold fries.

Not that there was much debate. As soon as I heard a fish was coming the decision was made to deep fry some of it. Ever since this post, I’ve wanted to do some more local lake fish. Execution could have been better, but it was a treat nonetheless.

Steelhead Trout 2 Ways


I’m a pretty big fan of Steelhead Trout. I know. It’s farmed. And yes, I’ve made fun of Walmart for labeling it ‘Steelhead Salmon’. But it tends to be a good value, and I dig any fish even closely resembling trout or salmon.

Night One. My wife suggested I poach it. Did I? No. I pan fried it. Looks nice, but was okay. And man, when you’re showing your home in an effort to actually sell it, this is NOT a dish to be making. Talk about fishy smelling odors. Yucka.

So on night two, still from the same fillet, I actually listened to my wife and poached it. Poached fish doesn’t seem to be something that people do a lot at home, and I don’t get it. I creates a giant margin for error on doneness, and preserves the delicate moistness that I love so dearly in fish. Screw roasting and baking and everything else [except maybe deep frying..], poach that fish!!

In this case, the fish was atop what I like to call a ‘grain and veg mush’. Yeah, been making a tad too much baby food around here. Brown rice, red lentils, mirepoix and red pepper brunoise.

Henry’s Salmon Steak

Henry just called. For those of you who don’t know, Henry is a friend, cousin, and professional fisherman. He’s the man. We’ve waterskied together, written a record together, butchered meat together. He called to let me know that his mother-in-law [my great aunt], passed away today. That kind of news always puts a fresh spin on things.

So this evening, I thought I’d share Henry’s method of making boneless salmon steaks. I think it’s quite genius. See, I don’t mind picking bones out of fish for the most part, but I am not a fan of picking out bones that have been cut into a million little pieces during the conventional steak cutting process. Those million little bones, and the propensity towards freezer burned belly sections make me a non-fan of salmon steaks.

Method: debone a fillet, skin-on. Cut a 2 inch strip off the fillet [perpendicular to the length]. Then cut that 2inch piece lengthwise down the middle all the way to, but not through the skin. Then flip it so the skin is touching against itself, and you get what you see above. What this also accomplishes is uniform steak thickness – as it will be 1″ thick regardless of whether it’s cut from the thin tail or thick shoulder.

Really…just my dinner.


On the left: lake Perch ‘Meuniere’ with potatoes, carrots, and herbs from the garden. Simple but good. While cleaning the fish, I was eyeballing the milt [sperm sac] – but decided to only go down that road with extremely fresh fish. Once again, I have my dad to thank for the supply of lake fishes from the clean waters of Northern Saskatchewan.

Below: another vegetarian dinner – 100% from the garden. Tomato, basil, olive oil and balsamic, and a potato pancake with chive and dill. Note to self: don’t ever ‘fry’ dill. Barf.

I got a phone call last night, and providing the bad weather doesn’t make the geese do anything weird, I’m slated to be in a field very early tomorrow morning.

Salt Cod


So bizarre. This thing is hard like a chunk of lumber. And the bones are dang sharp – sharp enough to make you bleed, apparently. It’s also bizarre to have a fillet of fish in your fridge for weeks, and it not smell of anything but a faint suggestion of fresh fish.

So now I have this brick of salt cod in my fridge, that will apparently store for months…at least that gives me some time to figure out what the heck to do with it. I really can’t see how this can have a nicer flavor and texture than fresh fish. We’ll see about that.

Rockfish and Lemongrass Soup


My tongue feels like someone’s piercing it with a hot metal poker. But aside from that, this is easily one of the best soups I’ve ever made. I needed a quick lunch, and here’s what went in the pot:

2 cups or so of chicken broth
1 cup or so of pork broth
A healthy shot of leftover Nuoc Cham [see previous post]
1/2 tsp or so of chili garlic sauce
~3″ of lemongrass, minced
A minced small green chili
A small portion of fresh rice noodles for Pho
1 filleted and deboned rock cod

Poached the fillets in the stock, then in went the rest. Add a Thai basil palate cleanser and an ounce of Japanese plum wine to quell the sweet tooth. Wow. Rock cod poached is amazing – the perfect blend of density and flakiness. I dipped mine in hoisin, of course. And the lemongrass gave the complex broth a fantastically fresh aroma. I don’t expect you to run out and make this. I just wanted to post it so that I wouldn’t forget what I did. But if you were to make it, you’d be in for a treat.


I have a confession to make. I had fish and chips again for supper tonight. But it wasn’t my fault this time – at least – it was someone else’s idea. My dad had a slab of halibut in his freezer that should have been consumed long ago, so we bid it adieu this evening. He was keen on ‘my’ beer batter [the recipe I've bastardized actually belongs to one of my heroes, Alton Brown]. And really, I haven’t gone through the fuss that AB does, with all due respect. My recipe: ya take flour. ya take beer. ya kick in a little baking powder, and maybe some salt. The only key, as my cousin Gerry taught me, was to ensure a loose consistency. Another confession? My favorite fish so far for deep frying has been pickerel. Who knew.

Fish N Chips: Pickerel


Is ‘holy shit’ an adjective? If not, I hereby dub thee, and if so, it is being appropriately used. I used my 36-lbs-of-cod-deep-fry night experience tonight to nail some deep-fried-forgotten-in-my-trunk pickerel. Now is that an adjective? It describes the noun, and I can spell it, so yes it is.

And an aside for your reading pleasure: