I’ve been asked numerous times, “How do you cook your lake trout?” (or salmon), or “What’s your favorite recipe for coho?”
My standard answer is “Just be careful not to overcook your fish. Like chicken, it’s real easy to cook too long and it ends up being too dry”. Then I’ll go on to say that usually, I am in a hurry to eat, so a basic and simple way works best for me. The fact is, you don’t need any fancy spices or exotic recipe to “make the fish taste good” when it’s eaten fresh – the key is fresh.
Here is my simple and fast way to cook a scrumptious fish dinner: Preheat a frying pan on medium-high and put in some oil. (I use coconut oil) Slice 1/2 or more of a medium sweet onion into the pan with garlic salt and pepper. This acts as the “bed” on which I add my (skin off) fillets. Sprinkle a little more garlic salt and pepper on top. Fry with a cover for 3 to 4 minutes (depending on the thickness of fillets), then flip them over for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until the flesh is cooked all the way through. Cut a thicker one apart to check. Fully cooked, the flesh will flake when separated with a fork.
Does it absolutely have to be fresh? No. In fact, we had lake trout for dinner last Sunday that was frozen in October (5 months ago).
It’s important how you handle the fish right after catching, especially if you can’t eat it soon.
1. Bleeding them by cutting the gills. We usually bleed and gut them in order to remove possible contaminants (and to keep the cooler cleaner).
2. Get them in a good cooler with plenty of ice.
3. Back at home, vacuum pack your fish. If you don’t have a vacuum packer, put the fillets in appropriate size FREEZER ziplock bags, then fill with water. Before sealing the zip, squeeze out as much water and bubbles as you can. The key here is to get ALL of the air out – and as much water, so you aren’t using up too much freezer space with water. Using only as much water as you need to remove the air bubbles also allows the fish to thaw faster.
I usually freeze them with the skin off, since I believe the skin can cause the fish to spoil sooner. If leaving the skin on, be sure to put skin to skin or flesh to flesh if there is more than 1 piece per bag. For larger fillets, slice through the flesh, just down to the skin, but not through it, then fold the fillet in half (skin to skin) to bag and freeze.
If you like to try different fish cooking recipes (from very experienced fishermen and chefs) I have Michigan Charter Boat Association cookbooks for sale. They are a collection of fish recipes from many of the Michigan Charter Boat Captains around the state that have shared their favorites. Order yours or gift one today. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 906-370-2257.