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Author Topic: My Best Fish Meals  (Read 1489 times)

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Online WV Sawmiller

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My Best Fish Meals
« on: September 18, 2019, 09:09:49 AM »
   I debated whether to post this under food or the travel section but since world famous sawyer and part time hush puppy fry cook, WDH, suggested posting it under food I am basically re-posting this.

If you have a real fond memory of a particular fish fry or cookout especially with pictures please post them here.

The best fish I ever remember eating was at a remote fishing village in central Cameroon in West, Central Africa in February 2008 while on a private tour throughout much of the country with my free-lance photographer wife, Becky, a local guide lady, Billie, and our driver, Henry. The village was on a big lake formed by a dam built to generate Hydro power. We heard about the village but were going to pass due to the round about road to get there then the security guards on the dam said they'd just open it up and let us drive over it as a short cut. We toured the village taking pictures and it was lunch time and we were hot, tired and hungry so we stopped to eat.

Here is my journal entry for 19 February 2008 of the trip:

We go up to the village to look for some cool water or Cokes and find a couple of small stores. We buy a large cold Coke from a lady nursing an infant behind a chicken wire screen. In front of her store we see a lady cooking fish over charcoal and a wire grill. She is also cooking long tubes of cassava in leaves. We buy several of the fish which look and taste like our bluegills. I assume they are Tilapia. They have been scaled, gutted, heads left on and scored on several places to speed the cooking. The lady spread locally made peanut oil on them before and after grilling them We first buy three which she puts on a piece of brown paper from a used cement sack. These three fish cost 500 cfa or $1.10. Becky buys several tomatoes from the adjacent open air stand to eat with hers. We sit on a concrete step in the shade nearby and eat our fish. Across from us is another small shop which I later learn is the village pharmacy. The vendor rushes out to loan us a wooden stool about 15Ē tall by ten inches square at the base and six inches square at the top. This is very generous and thoughtful of him. I eat my fish and I find that it is very tasty so I go back and order two more and eat them. This time the lady serves them on a thin plastic plate since she sees we are dining in the area and we are repeat customers. I finish mine and go back and get Becky another. She enjoys her meal of fish and fresh tomatoes. When we get ready to leave we return the pharmacistís stool and thank him for his kindness.

        We return the ladyís plastic plates and leave the village again crossing the power dam and saying goodbye to the Security guard. To this day I canít ever remember eating better fish than these grilled over a tire wheel full of charcoal on this dirty, dusty alley of a street in this unknown fishing village in Cameroon.


 This the young lady cooking fish to sell. The paper in front of her is an old cement sack. She'd tear off a piece and put the fish on it to serve it. You can see her dishes and paraphernalia. Note the little hand made stool she is sitting on. Her skirt is just a simple piece of colorful African printed cloth wrapped around her waist and she is wearing a western style T-shirt she bought somewhere. She has the typical cloth around her head which is likely required by local health code (Yeah!).


 Fish cooking on the grill made from an old tire rim laid on its side and cheap, low-grade charcoal fanned with a piece of cardboard to keep it burning. You can see the fish, some just put on to cook, others nearly done, with slits in the side to release the steam as they cook. Her kitchen knife is on the left side of the grill. The fish have been rubbed with local peanut oil and Maggi seasoning. The green tubes in the upper left corner of the picture is a cassava flour and palm oil paste/dough wrapped in local leaves of some kind and wrapped with jute cord. When cooked it makes a fairly tasteless bread stick

BTW - approximately a week later we got caught up in a coups attempt when the government tried to raise fuel prices. We had to hunker down until the government and rebels negotiated a cease fire of sorts and we escaped the country on 29 February 2008. I still miss the place.

Okay, back to 2019 - I still say this was the best fish I have ever eaten. Maybe we were just really hungry, maybe it was the atmosphere but looking at the pictures still make my mouth water.

A poor second around here would be a good meal of WV catfish fillets fried brown in corn oil and served with baked beans, cole slaw and cheese grits. If I were back in central Florida we'd hope to have swamp cabbage on the menu too.
Howard Green
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Dad always said "You can shear a sheep a bunch of times but you can only skin him once"

Offline sawguy21

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Re: My Best Fish Meals
« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2019, 11:37:22 AM »
Swamp cabbage ??? I have never heard of eating that or at least what we refer to as swamp cabbage. My best meal was at a small lake in central B.C. I caught a 3 lb rainbow trout and grilled it over an open fire. My companion, a retired CO, declined. He loved fishing but wouldn't eat them!! ::)  Pepper and a squirt of lemon juice along with pan fries and sliced tomato made a meal fit for a king.
old age and treachery will always overcome youth and enthusiasm

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Re: My Best Fish Meals
« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2019, 12:16:56 PM »
@sawguy21 ,

    Sounds like a tasty meal. I really like Rainbow trout.

    Swamp cabbage is heart of Sable Palm. You may be thinking about Skunk cabbage or such with a strong smell. Swamp cabbage may be an acquired taste as I did not like it as a child but I like it now but almost never get it. It is sort of like artichoke heart I guess in that you peel away the outer layers till you get to the tender bud then snap it off till it gets tough then you peel off another layer and repeat. If you get too far up it gets tough and bitter from natural quinine. I read once that was one reason the Seminole Indians did not get malaria as swamp cabbage was part of their natural diet.

    It was usually boiled with a piece of pork like regular green cabbage or sometimes used raw in a salad. My favorite way to cook it is to dice up and fry a couple pieces of bacon and then fry the swamp cabbage in the bacon bits and bacon grease.  smiley_chef_hat
   
    Warning: I like the taste but be sure to eat in moderation till your system is attuned to it. It is probably the worlds best natural laxative. :o smiley_horserider
Howard Green
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Dad always said "You can shear a sheep a bunch of times but you can only skin him once"

Offline sawguy21

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Re: My Best Fish Meals
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2019, 06:22:04 PM »
 :D I'll keep that in mind.
old age and treachery will always overcome youth and enthusiasm

Offline Ianab

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Re: My Best Fish Meals
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2019, 07:13:12 PM »
https://www.thecoconet.tv/coco-cookbook/coco-cooking/how-to-make-cook-islands-raw-fish-aka-ika/

You can make it at home, but it's so much better eating it in the Islands.  ;D

And Lil is in the process of booking a trip for next year. 8)
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Re: My Best Fish Meals
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2019, 08:08:42 PM »
Ian,

   Thanks for the post and site info. I hope you guys enjoy that fish that way. I suspect the lemon or lime juice "cooks" the fish and I am sure it is really good. 

   I ate raw fish as sushi and shashimi as a guest at Henoko (local village next door to USMC Base Camp Schwab) during their Harvest Moon Festival in Okinawa in 1986 while stationed there and it was okay but I preferred the fish stuffed with sea urchin and rice and wrapped in banana leaves and cooked over coals. They had raw sea urchin to eat but I noticed nobody touched them till they got to bottom of the big 5 liter Saki bottles. I don't drink so I never got the "inclination" to try it.

   Which reminds me of the old question "Who was the first guy to get drunk enough to eat a raw oyster?"
Howard Green
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Dad always said "You can shear a sheep a bunch of times but you can only skin him once"

Offline WDH

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Re: My Best Fish Meals
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2019, 09:03:03 PM »
The Native Americans ate oysters and mussels in large quantities forming large middens with the discarded shells.  Surely a great source of protein in their diets.

I have three memories that come to mind when thinking about my favorite fish meals.  One was purchased at a restaurant, but the other two were sourced by yours truly, one of those prepared by a friend and the other by me. 

1).  Fried walleye at "The Lodge" in Dryden Ontario.  Just unbelievably delicious.  I went back and had it a second time and it was just as good as the first.  The walleyes were caught on the lake through the ice in the month of February.  This was in about 2002.

2).  Blackened redfish on Cape Hatteras, NC in November 1994.  The redfish was caught in the surf just north of Avon, NC on Hatteras Island.  My friend had a propane fish cooker.  He took the filleted redfish and liberally coated it with Paul Pudhommes blackening seasoning.  (Here is a link to the recipe for the seasoning:  Paul Prudhomme's Blackened Seasoning Blend Recipe - Food.com).  He then took a large cast iron skillet and put just enough peanut oil to get the bottom of the skillet wet.  Put the skillet on the burner and got the skillet smoking hot.  The throw in the fillet, leave it a minute cooking at 10,000 degrees, flip to the other side and repeat.  Very hot skillet, very tasty spice seasoning, and very quick cooking.  Blackened redfish.

3).  Cajun rainbow trout in the North Georgia Mountains first done in the early 1990's.  Clean the fresh caught trout by removing the entrails, then take the head and snap it back up to where the backbone breaks just behind the gills and then pull the snapped head toward the tail and the skin pulls off in one easy motion.  Then turn the fish upside down with the open body cavity pointing up and take the tip of a very sharp knife and slice the bones along one side the backbone but not all the way through the back of the fish, then open it like a book, butterflying it.  Now the fish will lay flat in the pan.  Coat with a light coating of oil then apply a liberal amount of cajun seasoning or the seasoning of your choice.  Let the fish marinate with the seasoning on it for a bit.  Build a fire and make a nice coal bed.  Take a cast iron skillet lightly coated with oil and get it hot.  Put skillet on the coals or on a rack above but close to the coals.  Lay the butterflied trout in the skillet and cook first on one side then the other in the hot skillet.  The smoke from the hardwood coals from the fire also flavor the fish as well as the seasoning.  When cooked right, both fillets pull perfectly off the bones in one large piece on each side leaving nothing but a fish skeleton like you see in the old cartoons.  They are so good that you cannot cook them fast enough :).  Cajun trout.  Best had in conjunction with the cold beverage of your choice and live music played around the campfire in the Spring when the leaves are first turning green and the shadbush is just blooming.
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Re: My Best Fish Meals
« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2019, 09:13:42 PM »
Howard, I have had raw sea urchin. It is really quite good, it's like a pate with a fresh ocean taste.
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Re: My Best Fish Meals
« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2019, 09:25:29 PM »
Sawguy21,

 Were you sober at the time? :D :D

Danny,

   You're making me hungry for a late night snack.  ;D

   BTW - I thought a midden was a wet smelly mud wallow made by Rhinos. Sort a a rhino outhouse. That's what we saw on our trips in southern Africa.
Howard Green
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Dad always said "You can shear a sheep a bunch of times but you can only skin him once"

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Re: My Best Fish Meals
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2019, 11:09:02 PM »
There are various versions of the marinated fish recipe made all around the Pacific under slightly different names. The lemon juice does effectively "cook" the fish. 
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Re: My Best Fish Meals
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2019, 12:17:34 AM »
I can't think of a specific fish meal, but I will say that our Walleye up here make you turn your nose up at other fish😊 They are tasty! I love fresh stream trout as well👍
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Re: My Best Fish Meals
« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2019, 07:04:04 AM »
Not a meal,but I remember growing up and meeting my Father in the driveway to bring his green fish bag into the house to see how many brook trout he had caught. He always lined it with newspapers each time he went.
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Re: My Best Fish Meals
« Reply #12 on: September 19, 2019, 08:16:03 AM »
I caught and ate a lot of walleye when I lived up north. Can't find it down here and if you do it's the size of a gold fish and frozen.
First day in South Dakota I saw it on the menu and away I went. DELISH!
Neighbors in Tenn go trout fishing a couple Saturdays a month and always bring me some when I'm up there.
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Re: My Best Fish Meals
« Reply #13 on: September 19, 2019, 08:37:06 AM »
   I remember driving an OTR truck up through PA and I think it was near Erie I stopped at a truck stop and they had Walleye on the menu. As I remember they were very good - but still not as good as my Cameroon tilapia. We have them here but I never fish for them. We had an old neighbor we met when we first moved in who used to have the state record but somebody caught a bigger one the year we moved in.

cfarm,

   I never heard of lining a creel with newspaper. I guess it was to help keep it clean. Then again, we always kept our fish on a stringer, in a live well or ice box and I never knew anybody to use a creel. Different style of fishing no doubt.
Howard Green
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Dad always said "You can shear a sheep a bunch of times but you can only skin him once"

Offline Raider Bill

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Re: My Best Fish Meals
« Reply #14 on: September 19, 2019, 08:56:28 AM »
We only used creels when fly fishing otherwise we used stringers
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Re: My Best Fish Meals
« Reply #15 on: September 19, 2019, 04:11:40 PM »
Creel,had to google this. Not that. This was a green,kinda a cloth/canvas bag. When it was empty it would be flat.
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Re: My Best Fish Meals
« Reply #16 on: September 19, 2019, 04:21:08 PM »
 I have had many a Walleye meal up in Quebec and a few down here in PA, the northern Walleyes were better maybe because of the situation. On our annual fishing trips we would come in off the lake about 4-5 o'clock and dad would start putting potatoes on to boil while my brother and I were cleaning fish then my brother would get the table ready while I was frying the fillets. I miss the trips with dad but my brother and I were up on Lake Ogascannon last month and the fish are still great. 
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Re: My Best Fish Meals
« Reply #17 on: September 19, 2019, 05:05:44 PM »
I plan on having a big pile of whitefish for supper tomorrow night!
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Re: My Best Fish Meals
« Reply #18 on: September 19, 2019, 08:55:34 PM »
  Pictures are expected, leftovers are not. 

  I'm providing and cooking at my son's annual church fish fry this Saturday so any of you passing through PM for directions and so I know to bring more fish. ;) Its right off I-64 at the Green Sulphur Springs Exit and easy to get to for travelers. :D

   I was talking to my son tonight about this thread and he said he and his roommate in college used to go catch a bunch of crappie then throw them back and stop at the local grocery and buy a bunch of Walleye. They said it was too cheap and too good to bother cleaning the crappie.
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Dad always said "You can shear a sheep a bunch of times but you can only skin him once"

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Re: My Best Fish Meals
« Reply #19 on: September 19, 2019, 10:15:09 PM »
Yes Howard, I was stone colde sober. :D Walleye caught in cold water is very tasty, had lots of it in Alberta. We are in the Pacific drainage here in southern BC so don't see it.
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