You’ve put so much thought and effort into launching your boat, and casting your line. Now that you’ve caught a stringer full of fish, what are you going to do with this wonderful stuff?
Sounds like a delightful dinner is in store for your family! You can’t beat the taste of fresh caught fish! But how can you best prepare your fresh feast?
There are multiple schools of thought. You can clean it while you’re still on the boat (something your partner on land may well appreciate), or keep it in a cooler, and clean it when you get home. Many marinas also have cleaning areas for gutting fish, so have a plan before you head out.
No matter your plan, you’re going to need a well sharpened knife. To start you’re going to want to make a shallow incision from tail to head and then remove the intestines and organs. Don’t go too deep with the cut, or you will pierce the intestines—not a good thing. Once you have removed all the internal organs, you may or may not want to remove the head. It’s a personal preference.
If the particular fish you’ve caught has scales, depending on your preparation, you may want to de-scale the fish. If you’re going to de-skin, and fillet the fish, you needn’t bother. Some preparations call for specific butchering techniques.
If you’re going to scale the fish, hold it by the head, and scrape the scales off from tail to head with a scaling tool. Keep your strokes quick and short. Don’t puncture the skin.
Rinse the fish thoroughly and put in in a clean cooler or your refrigerator. Don’t blast the fish with a strong stream of water. Fish flesh is quite delicate, and can be damaged by anything forceful.
If you’re working with a salmon, or other large fish, you may want to cut it into steaks. In which case, leave the backbone and cut ½ to 1 inch “steaks”, cutting each perpendicular to the fish as it lies on the cutting board.
Now it’s time to cook! If you’ve caught catfish, you may want to go the cornmeal based/fried route—a long time favorite. If you’ve hooked some crappie, you might want to go the beer-battered route. If you’ve managed to latch some salmon on the line, you may want to go smoked, BBQ’d or just plain old grilled with a bit of Dijon mustard and brown sugar.
How about a little Mediterranean preparation for any kind of white fish–with some olive oil, basil, salt, pepper, and lemon? Fold the fish and other ingredients in foil and give it a few minutes on the grill.
Any way you serve it, fresh fish just out of the stream, lake or ocean can’t be beat! Leave your grocer’s counter behind, and feed your family something you caught yourself with your own tact and wiles, while you enjoyed the peace of the day floating along! Just think how much it beats the heck out of the 9 to 5 grind!