By Joe Blanchard –
There is nothing better than bringing home the day’s catch and preparing your freshwater feast for all to enjoy. Although catching your meal may have been fun, but no easy task, nothing spoils the moment like serving burnt or improperly handled fish.
EZ ANGLER wanted to share some tips about preparing your catch that will help it not only look good but taste good too. So let’s keep this fairly easy and most of it is common sense, but it never hurts to be well informed.
1) One of the basics is to make sure your fish is fresh and that shouldn’t be a problem since you just caught it. Regardless, make sure to ice it if it’s going to be a while until you are going to cook.
2) When cleaning the fish, clean it thoroughly but only give it a good rinse and don’t let water run over it. This can make the fish meat soft and mushy. We don’t want this to happen because we just caught this beauty and we want it to be as good as it can be.
3) Before preparing the fish consider the kind of fish you are using. The type of fish makes a big difference in how you’re going to prepare it. Take into consideration the color of the meat, its texture and the flavor profile which factor into deciding the best way to cook it. Fish with lighter meat, such as catfish, should be broiled or poached, maybe fried. Darker, firmer meats, like that found on trout, and salmon can be grilled over a low setting or over low coals.
4) One of the biggest no-no’s is to overcook the fish. Fish dries out quickly and cooking most fish only takes a few minutes. For example, if you using the over, 8 minutes max should be plenty of time. If you are pan cooking or grilling the time may vary but remember you should only turn the fish over once during the cooking process. Fish is done when it is white in color and is flaky. If you overcook your fish, you will end up with a tough, dried out and very little flavor. Who wants that!
5) If you’re thinking about frying your fish, stick with a dryer fish, like trout, rather than one that contains a lot of oil, such as salmon. Fish with a lot of oil will be too moist for any breading to properly stick and crisp. The other consideration is if you’re going to fry your fish, make sure you have an oil that can take the heat (yeah I know we said we were going to keep it simple) but this is important. Make sure the oil you decide to use will not smoke or burn at 375 degrees.
7) When grilling thicker pieces of fish use indirect heat. This will slow down the cooking process, allowing the center of the fish to cook without burning the outer skin. This means if you’re grilling with charcoal, wait until the coals have cooled down a bit so you don’t burn the “H”eck out of it.
8) O.k. some of you are thinking why can’t I just throw some butter on this thing and cook it in the microwave? Well you can if you want but we would advise against it. Each piece of fish is usually thinner on the edges and that means these parts will cook much faster than the middle. The result is having a piece of fish that’s dried out on the edges and not cooked in the middle. Personally I don’t want my fish to come out that way. It’s possible to cook it in a microwave with the proper techniques but, as we stated before, we are trying to keep this simple! Honestly, the bottom line here is don’t cook fish in the microwave. I know we’re not all great cooks but we should be able to turn on an oven or fire up the old grill.
9) One of the best parts about cooking fish is that any leftovers can be frozen. This has never been a problem for us at EZ ANGLER because we never seem to have any leftovers. FYI – leaner fish can last up to six months in the freezer, while fattier fish will last only about three months. Remember if you are going to freeze your fish wrap it properly. Don’t just wrap it in some plastic wrap. Wrap it in a freezer type baggie or if you have one of those fancy vacuum type machines they work great for freezing almost everything.
Remember, leftover fish should be frozen right away and not left out and should be thrown away when the meat becomes mushy.
Cooking is not rocket science and with these easy tips and techniques we have given you (and will continue to provide) you should be able to cook your catch and be as proud of it now as when you had it on the line!
EZ ANGLER welcomes any feedback on these cooking tips. We also welcome you to submit your tasty recipes.
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