Preserving and cooking your freshly caught fish
In collaboration with Geneviève O'Gleman, nutritionist
Happiness knows no bounds when you’ve reeled in a mess of fish! But how to preserve and cook your fresh catch? Nutritionist Geneviève O'Gleman has all sorts of tips and tricks up her sleeve.
First, a good cleaning
Whether you cook the fish the same day or bring your catch home, the first step is to clean them well and remove the giblets. "The fish will keep better that way," says the nutritionist.
First of all, get a good, sharp knife, such as a Rapala Fish 'n' Fillet Knife. "Otherwise, you'll damage the fish while filleting.” Slice the fish in the centre of the abdomen, from tail to head, and remove its organs. Be sure to scrape off any blood residue, then rinse the fish with plenty of water. Sépaq provides small cabins for these preparation steps.
What about the skin and head of the fish? For trout, they can be kept without any problem. "I prefer to keep the trout whole; it's less complicated that way. Besides, the cheeks are one of my favorite parts: it's like the filet mignon of the fish," says Geneviève.
Once the cleaning operation is complete, all that's left to do is to wrap the fish in an airtight dish or plastic bag and put them on ice. "I like to use an airtight storage dish. With any form of plastic wrap, melt water always ends up seeping in. And plastic isn’t so great for the environment.”
Cooking on site
You don't have to lug around a lot of ingredients to properly prepare a fish on site. "I like to prepare it directly on the BBQ. The skin gets super crispy and it's delicious! I often bring tandoori curry paste and baste the fish before cooking it, but you can also drag along steak spices, Cajun mix, or even simply maple sugar.
Another easy-to-carry idea is citrus fruit. Sliced in wheels and placed on the BBQ grill, oranges and lemons will serve as a bed for the fish. Very practical when you only have access to a worn out BBQ or a simple campfire grill! "Citrus fruits protect the delicate flesh of the fish by preventing it from sticking. And at the same time, they add all sorts of flavour.” On a recent Sépaq fishing trip, Geneviève concocted a simple and delicious recipe for maple-orange trout, which includes only four ingredients. And except for the freshly caught trout, everything can be kept at room temperature, which frees up space in your cooler.
Above all, don't hesitate to discover fish in a different way and to play around with fun recipes. "The taste of fresh fish is so mild, delicate, and good with everything! Add it to nachos with salsa; put it on top of a bagel with cream cheese; or roll it up in a large Greek pita with cucumbers, tomatoes, and tzatziki for a gourmet gyro delight.”
A little tip if you have a number of people to feed at the same time: try to choose fish of about the same size, to avoid different cooking times.
Finally, don't forget to have a plan B in case the fish don't bite (yes, it happens!). Pasta and a jar of frozen sauce, which doubles as a block of ice, is always handy in a cooler.
You like bringing home your catches? As soon as you get back, put them in the freezer. If you have a vacuum packer, use it to better preserve your fish. "This will protect them from the cold of the freezer, prevent them from drying out, and keep them longer too.”
At home, all sorts of cooking methods are at your disposal: in the frying pan, on the BBQ, in foil on the stove, in the oven, and more. Just try not to overcook the fish; it’s time to stop cooking when the flesh starts to flake with a fork.
A fish that you’ve caught and cleaned yourself is so greatly appreciated that you don't want to waste it. "You develop a real respect for the fish," concludes Geneviève.
Enjoy your meal!
About Geneviève O’Gleman
Geneviève O’Gleman is at the helm of the Savourer show on Radio-Canada and editor of the web magazine savourer.ca. She has just launched her recipe book Petit Prix, a best seller available throughout Quebec.