Camp and Cook: 3 Camping Recipes for Fresh Fish

For many, camping can be the chance to connect with the outdoors, enjoy favorite pastimes and share stories among friends. For others, it means bugs, sleeping on the dirt and looming weather. There's something about a campfire, however, that brings everyone together—it's the perfect place and time to visit with family and friends and enjoy the fresh catch of the day. Here are three ways to serve up that fresh fish that won't disappoint.

Caught Fresh, Done Right

If you're lucky enough to live in a lake-dense area like Minnesota or Wisconsin, and you qualify for boating safety and operation, catching, dressing and cooking a fish should be commonplace. And the best way to do it for most is the three-cut fillet.

Preparation:

  1. Once the fish is cleaned and the head is removed, turn the grill to high. Contrary to popular belief, cooking fish over the open fire is too difficult with the inconsistent flames. A portable charcoal or propane grill will help produce better quality meals.
  2. Next, make three cuts on the side of the fish to the bone. These help ventilate the cooking process and make bone identification easier when eating.
  3. Lather the fish with cooking oil and/or butter. Season it with you favorite salt and pepper mixture or more exotic options like garlic powder, cayenne pepper or Zatarain's.
  4. Place the fish on the grill and fry for five minutes. Monitor your grilling station if preparing multiple fish to counter any stick spots. Gently flip the fillet to preserve the flavor. (Cooking time will vary depending on if you're cooking Uncle Al's monster catch or little Sara's minnow.) Use the cuts to observe when the fish is complete.
  5. Finish it off with some lemon or any citrus, and a side of beans or vegetables.

Survivorman's Fish on a Stick

If camping is supposed to remind us of the simple things in life, maybe we should cook fish the traditional way: on a stick, over a fire. As our cavemen ancestors discovered, the easiest way to cook game is to rotate over a fire. However, due to the inconsistent flames, the key is once again preparation.

Preparation:

  1. As nature blogger Mungo advises, once the fish is caught and cleaned, go one step further and remove the backbone and bones. This will allow you to fit the fish with a frame. For optimal taste, make sure all sticks are debarked and free of leaves.
  2. Leave the fish over the fire and observe until it's properly cooked all the way through.
  3. Couple the fish with boiled corn on the cob and a cold beer!

Hot, Hot Coals

Maybe the most intriguing method of outdoor fish preparation is hot coal submersion, sort of a poor man's Dutch oven. Hot coal cooking begins long before the food is enjoyed, and proper construction of the campfire is key. Kindling should be set up as a rectangle log cabin opposed to a teepee. For cooking, make a U-shaped fire pit. Once the fire has died down, shove coals to make a ramp from the back to the front, creating makeshift high, medium and low settings.

Preparation:

  1. Once the fish is cleaned, use comparative seasonings and lubricants as for the three cut fillet.
  2. Create a tin foil wrap around the fish and make it a double wrap if little Sara caught the big kahuna this time. Create foil handles on either side of the wrap if you're short on tongs.
  3. Place the wrap directly on the coals once the flames are gone, and rotate every five minutes for 10 to 15 minutes. The result should be a flakey treat with opaque meat. Some wrap onions or leaves around the fish to avoid burns from the foil. Furthermore, a good tin foil wrap can be the vegetarian option for your camp group.
  4. Combine veggies like onions, garlic or asparagus and mix with potatoes or yams. Top with seasonings and water or broth. Drop this into the coals alongside the fish and have the whole meal prepared as night falls.

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