As obsessed as I am with fishing, I’m not really a lover of fish as food. I didn’t grow up eating a lot of fish, and the few times I’ve bought fish at the store, I’ve always been let down by past-their-prime filets and very fishy odors. However, I HAVE had some delicious fish- at the cabin in Michigan, delicious fresh-caught bluegill fried up, and in Spain I had amazing fresh-caught sardines seasoned with salt. So I know there’s hope for me becoming a fish-eating-lover. It seems like a travesty to squander all of the “free” fresh fish I can catch and bring home for the table, so I’m on a mission to like to eat fish.
I’d like to tell you the story of how I backpacked through northern Oregon, learned fly-fishing, and caught this beautiful rainbow trout behind a boulder in a rushing cold-water stream, but I try to keep the exaggerations in my blog to a minimum, and mostly relating to fish length.
The real story is I drove to Meijer. I pushed my cart up to the fish counter, which amazingly was missing the unappetizing fishy smell that plagues every other fish counter I’d ever been to. I talked to the lady at the counter, and asked about the rainbow trout. She grabbed a filet, and I said “no, actually I mean the whole fish.” Its eyes looked relatively clear, the gills mostly bright red. I asked if I could smell it, and without missing a beat held it up to me from across the counter, and it smelled nice. Not like cucumbers or watermelon like the internet says it might, but a faint, lake-like smell. Not fishy at all. She weighed it, put it in a bag, and handed it to me. “This is much easier than catching’em!” I said.
|Mexican oregano AKA the good stuff|
WHAT YOU NEED:
Salsa (like my salsa)
Oregano (mexican is the best)
HOW YOU MAKE IT:
1) Get some good fish! From what little I know about cooking fish, it seems like 99% of it is starting with some good fish and not messing it up
|Let’s just pretend I caught him, cleaned him, and brought him home|
2) Put the juice of 2 limes, about 1 cup of OJ, and 3 teaspoons of salsa in a cup, and mix it
3) Pour the mix in, over, and around the fish (might help to put the fish in a dish with sides)
4) Spoon some salsa in the cavity, then place sliced onions and limes in there too
5) Heat up the grill so it’s real hot
6) Let the fish sit in the limey-OJ-ey goodness for a few minutes while the grill heats up; before putting it on the grill, rub oil all over its sides
|Our fearless hero, ready for the grill|
7) Once the grill is good and hot, oil the grates. NOTE: I did NOT do this enough, and that’s why I had fish skin stuck to the grates
8) In one nice movement, put the fish on the grill, and leave it. It should sizzle!
|Fish on the grill just seems right|
9) After a while, carefully flip it so its other side is now on the grates
|This is what happens if you don’t oil everything enough|
|The good news is either way, you’ve got crispy trout cracklins!|
10) Once the flesh flakes, it’s done! Carefully take it off the grill, and eat immediately
|Like everything, I ate it with limes, cilantro, and tortillas;
rice and hot sauce too, with a grilled jalapeño
Well, this was an experiment. The goal was to make some delicious fish, so I’d be more interested in eating more of my catch. I love cooking, it just seems like a waste to not cook more of the fish I catch, combining two of my favorite hobbies!
The flavor was outstanding- this is the first time I’ve ever had trout, and I have to say it was freaking delicious. It was similar to salmon, but definitely less salmon-ey than any salmon I’d ever had. Very very mild, actually I didn’t think the meat itself had much flavor. Then again, I did completely overwhelm it with spicy salsa and OJ and limes, but that’s pretty much what I do to all meat.
Next time I’ll either be sure to oil the grates and the fish much better so the skin doesn’t stick, or use a different grilling method like grilling it on banana leaves (which are available at Meijer in Elk Grove Village! Seriously! For like $1.50, you get a bunch of banana leaves. Awesome.)
As I was eating the fish, I was thinking about the texture, and how different it is from terrestrial animal meat. So little texture, so light. I wonder if that’s part of the reason frying fish is so popular, because it gives the fish some nice crispy texture to contrast the extremely light and soft meat.
Overall, I’m super happy with the whole experience- I am definitely well on my way to becoming a fish lover. I’m really hoping to catch some more trout in Lake Michigan, and take them home and cook’em! There’s something very awesome about eating wild animals you just caught, and I want to get on that train.