This is the easiest sushi dish you could ever make. I'd trust a half drunk hillbilly to make this as well as me in a heartbeat. You're gonna use cured Trout Roe... you already have some, right? Make sushi rice according to its directions and make a simple solution of rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. I generally use about a quarter cup of rice vinegar, tablespoon of sugar, big pinch of salt and a splash of water for this mixture, experiment till you find a mix you like, you can find many wild variations of this online, so google your heart out. Mix a bowl full of water, rice vinegar and pinch of salt. Maybe a cup of water and 3 tablespoons of vinegar, teaspoon of salt. This is for your hands while you handle the sushi rice. Cut 1 inch wide by 5 inch long strips of Nori. Make a small ball of rice and roll it into the piece of nori. Mine end up round, but an oval shape is idea, in fact "Gunkan" means "battleship" in Japanese, so think of that shape.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Sunday, December 1, 2013
This is a quick, easy appetizer that will have your guests drooling. It brings out the bacony flavor of the smoked Trout and the prep work can be done in advance to make serving it simple and quick.
Makes 24 bites
- 12 Baby potatoes (picture half of it being 1 serving)
- 1 green onion, chopped
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped smoked Trout
- 1 T Cold Butter
- 2 T Cream Cheese
- Salt & Pepper
Boil the potatoes whole for about 20 minutes. You want them soft but not mush, we need to work with them. Cut the pointy ends off each potato, and then slice in half. On the big side, scoop out a tiny bowl into the potato half. Cut the butter into pads, and then subdivide pads to make small blocks of butter. Place a block of butter in each potato bowl. You don't want too much butter, but you want it to boil over the edges when in the broiler. Broil on high and watch it, once the butter has boiled over and the top of the potato begins to brown, take them out. Mix minced green onion with the chopped smoked trout and add this mixture to each potato half. Top with a bit of cream cheese and return to broiler until the cream cheese starts to brown.
Saturday, November 30, 2013
As I try recipes from far off lands and constantly look for new ways of eating a Trout, I sometimes have to fall back on old, and I mean OLD classics. Evidence of fish smoking dates back thousands of years and was used by various groups of people to preserve their catch. With cold smoking in the Norse method, you basically do several things to preserve and flavor the fish, which is, in essence, raw. I've just made a Lox like product from some large Rainbow Trout, and I can say with certainty that is one of the best things I've ever put in my mouth. Let's go over the process, it's easier than you think!
For me, using a freshwater fish for a raw product just sounds scary. Although the high waters where we catch these fish are relatively clean on the global scale, there are still parasites and bacteria present that could pose a health risk, which is why we have to be meticulous about our preparation and not cut any corners. Done correctly, this fish is as safe as anything you can buy. The FDA states that freezing at a temperature of -4F for a period of 7 days will kill unwanted parasites such as tapeworms. A physical inspection is also handy for tapeworms, and they're often large enough to see with the naked eye. You can also freeze at -31F for 15 hours, but you better have a beefy freezer for that. Check your freezer's temperature, many home models do not go below 0, and this temperature will not kill parasites. I got lucky with a freezer that holds around -10F and I stored my fish in it for 8 days just to be safe.
While the freezing takes care of parasites, we do have bacteria to worry about. Cleanliness and promptness are required when filleting the fish for the smoker. Be very careful with the kidney, along the spine of the fish. We don't want any of that nastiness getting on our fillets. Once the fillets are removed, they need to be cleaned, dried, and frozen immediately. Again, watch that freezer temperature. If you don't have a freezer that can reach these temperatures, reach out to your friends in the food service industry. Many restaurants have a deep freezer.
Once the fish have been adequately frozen and have thawed, we want to coat them, and I mean COAT them with a mixture of salt and brown sugar. I do about 2/3 salt and 1/3 brown sugar. We want the fish to be entirely caked, get the nooks and crannies. This is no time to be stingy with your salt, go big or go home. Once salted, wrap the individual fillets in clingwrap and place in dishes that can catch spillover, in the refrigerator. Some people say 6 hours, but I found that leaving them over night gave the fish time it needs to shed water. You'll notice that your fish has dramatically reduced in size, and should be surrounded by liquid. Rinse off excess salt and sugar and place the fish on racks to dry. They'll feel more firm and they'll be smaller and lighter. This curing process removes water from the meat and adds salt, creating a hostile environment for bacteria. The bacteria need the water in the meat to reproduce and flourish, and we've just taken the water away. Your fish is now cured, and could be eaten, but why leave out the best part?!? These fish are cured and ready to smoke.
Hot smoking cooks the fish, while cold smoking really just adds flavor. You can build your own cold smoker, I used an old BBQ with a fire in it connected with some duct to a platform. I placed my fish on racks on the platform and covered with a giant tupperware. It looked like something from Sanford and Sons' yardsale, but it did the trick just perfectly. I used hickory to get the fire going and then apple wood once the fish was actually in there. You'll want to keep the temperature under 80F, remember we're not trying to cook the fish. Smoke from 6 to 12 hours, depending on how smoky you like it. Don't be afraid to try a bit as it goes, it's the best way to monitor the flavor.
What I ended up with was an insanely delicious product served on crackers with cream cheese, or just eaten as slices right off the fillet. I can't believe it's taken me this long to produce a product like this. Sure, there's an element of risk, like there is in anything worth doing, but the payoff makes it all worth it!
Monday, November 18, 2013
Because it's an easy way to measure your fish... After all, you know how long the kid is right? Boy we pulled in some hogs on Sunday at Vallecito. There were quite a few people out and it looked like everyone was having a great time and doing well. Our friend across the lake brought a little fella he is mentoring in the big brothers big sisters program. When you take a kid fishing you create tomorrow's fishermen. They won't leave shit all over the banks, they'll be great stewards of the lakes, and they'll NEVER use powerbait. Most of all, they'll help sway public opinion in a way that positively portrays fishermen.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
In what has become a birthday tradition, Lisa decided that I needed yet another fishing lesson and took me to school. To be fair, I got first, and I got most... but those paltry little slimers are hardly fish compared to this gorgeous male cutbow she hauled in on a home made sculpin jig. I had fish taking very small mayfly nymphs, midges and yellow eggs. It's been a while since I've fished the Animas. Honestly, it's just not the same without my ol' buddy Travis, who picked up and moved back to Maryland where he continues to guide lucky fly fishers. I miss walking up and saying "what are they eating?" and having him pull a jar of bugs out of his pocket. He even left me some seine material, I guess it is up to me now. I'd forgot how gorgeous the fish on the Animas are, and also how fickle. If I had one day of my life left and was given the option.. Animas or San Juan? I would take the Animas without even thinking a second. I noticed a very very small leak in the heel of my waders, I'd like to nip it in the bud before it gets any worse.. Any ideas? Comment below!
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
This is a fast, simple version of a fairly popular recipe. You'll just need a few items. I chose Spaghetti Squash because we've got a bunch of them, but you could serve this on top of just about anything. I left out a sauce here, as I've been eating quite a few rich foods lately, I thought I'd take a break, but just about any butter sauce or Beurre Blanc will do nicely. For the Trout, you'll need:
- Trout Fillets, Boneless, Skinless
- About 2/3 cup Pistachios, pulsed in food processor to the size of breadcrumbs
- Salt & Pepper
Bring the fillets to room temperature and salt them liberally. Dust with flour. Dip the floured fillets in the whipped egg, and then into the Pistachios. Coat them well, stir the Pistachios again, and repeat with other fillet. Heat oil in a pan with a dab of butter, and drop in the fillets. Boom! 2 and a half minutes a side on medium-high will get you there! You're done, enjoy a cold one! As you can see, this is a very simple version of the recipe. You could excite the Pistachio mixture with herbs, bits of garlic, ground hard cheese.. the sky is the limit, however, there's something nice about doing it as simply as possible, and the flavor is amazing, especially with a nice, fat, wild Trout.
Monday, November 11, 2013
From now until February is my favorite time to be on the San Juan. The cold keeps the the crowds down (and it IS very cold) and the fishing is generally excellent. A nice morning stroll up the San Juan would do me right about now, except for one nagging thought... I am sort of a shameless catch-and-eat fisherman. I think bag limits have done great for the populations of grouse, elk, turkey, deer. We don't catch and release any of those animals, yet their populations flourish. I find that setting out to fish when you have 0 intention of eating anything is sort of a sadistic thing. "I'm going to go stress an animal out and put it through a crappy ordeal to prove that I can" is the thing that rings in my head when I set out to catch and release. That being said, I may or may not know someone who has slipped the occasional fish from the upper San Juan into their vest to bring home for dinner. "Mushy midgy mud" was the description of the fish's flavor he or she told me. So we have aggressive, hungry fish that taste horrible. Sure, there's a lot more to fishing than just catching dinner, or else we'd just use bait, right? The positive mental state one is in after a day fishing the Juan probably does more good for that person's family than a stinky ol' Trout. And it IS fun, terribly fun. So why do I feel a little dirty whenever I go down there?
I feel dirty because I witness the effects of people just not following the rules. For a catch and release area to work, the barbless hook rule HAS to be enforced. We've all seen the train wrecks on the Juan: big fish with pussy sores all over their jaws, hand prints on their sides, slow, sluggish movement. Improper handling and barbed hooks account for almost all of these disasters and they're easily avoided. Also, the guy at the fly shop says you need 7x, but you've got a stiff 6 weight rod. Don't do it, for flip's sake, you're just going to break off fish and leave them with your fly hanging out of their butt. Yes, we all break off fish, but setting out to lose is a bad idea. My wife describes the San Juan as "dirty old diseased fish that make me depressed," and I can really see where she's coming from. So please, pinch your barbs, use your net and hemostats, don't man handle the fish too long for your picture. With all of us making it our goal to keep these fish healthy, we will all have a better experience.
In local news... I've heard that Pastorious is fishing well, and Vallecito is still producing hogs. Look for the weather to change in the coming week and we might just see some excellent fishing returning. It's been a year to the day that I caught that monster Rainbow. That day was cold and snowy. I had no such luck on the anniversary, but I'm excited about upcoming changes in the weather. We're planning on going to Puett when time allows to see if we can talk a fall Walleye into biting.
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Well, I say one Trout, but there were certainly potatoes and other vegetables involved. I caught a lovely 20" Rainbow Trout yesterday and I want to show you how it's possible to make a mouth watering meal that will make even your foodiest of friends whine and pine. Come in, sit down, and have some Trout skin chicharrones. Yep, those are pork rinds, but made from fish skin instead of football. I got the idea for the chicharrones from the illustrious Hank Shaw at his wonderful blog. His cooking makes me look like a backwoods country bumpkin with a chicken fetish, make sure you check him out.
The appetizers are simple, tiny boiled potatoes from the garden, selectively shaved down to be perfect little serving bowls for the cured Trout roe (processed like Ikura, see video.) I put some butter in the potatoes and throw them under the broiler for a minute before I cool them and add the roe.
The Salad, well we need our veggies, so make yourself a nice salad. I'm sure I could have work a Trout into the salad but something about that sets off alarms to my inner New Jersey. I'd settle for some baby arugula with some kinda citrus vinaigrette and pumpkin seeds.
For the main course, we'll steam boneless, skinless trout fillets in soy sauce, sherry, ginger, carrots and green onions. Serve with spaghetti squash with a rice vinaigrette. I put my sides in separate dishes to make the fish float in the broth in which it was steamed. Desert is not of fish, but it is Wild Serviceberry syrup over buttered home made sourdough. This is coming at a time when my poor old dog has just had an expensive surgery and funds for gourmet meals are not available. With a lunker Trout and some simple ingredients, anyone can afford to eat like a king.
It's hog season. We've been keeping the occasional 18-22" Rainbow from Vallecito during this flurry of large fish activity. We find that fish in this size group have lived in the lake long enough to eat natural food and get that rich, pink color. Freshly stocked fish taste ok, but why not let them go to grow up a few years? This is another reason I'm generally against fishing with bait, if everything that takes your live bait swallows it, you don't really have the ability to release the little guys to let them grow up. Learn to tie some jigs, it's self sufficient and a great way to spend a beery evening.
What you'll need
Trout fillets. I'm thinking either half of a large Trout or both fillets from a smaller Trout. We want to fill a frying pan and have plenty for 2 people. If you have more people, well, start multiplying. You'll need some olive oil, butter, salt, pepper, a lemon, and green onions. You can use real capers, but for this recipe I used pickled Nasturtium seed pods. I used this lovely lady's recipe. Nasturtium pods are zesty and delicious and you can grow TONS of them yourself without relying on trans continental trade to caper your dish. I prefer my Trout fillets with the pin bones either pulled or cut out, because I'm a freak about fish bones, but some people just leave them in and eat around them. In my photo, you'll see this recipe served with a garbanzo bean and tomato salad and spaghetti squash. I am leaving the sides purposely vague, you can really couple Trout like this with anything. You could even serve just the Trout on a small plate as an appetizer, that'd look pretty swanky.
You need to remove the fish from the refrigerator or cooler at least 20 minutes in advance of making this. Cold fish will cook unevenly and you'll end up burning some bits while others are barely cooked. Like all meat, fish wants to be brought to room temperature before being cooked. Salt your fillets, and pepperCut the fillet into strips about 1 inch wide. Heat oil and once it is hot, add just a little butter to it until you have a rapidly bubbling mess. You can use an oil more neutral that olive oil if you prefer, but my inner Italian just uses a mellow olive oil for just about everything. Fillets in, skin side down and listen to the sizzle. You will see the cooked parts of the fillet grow and when they've reached about halfway, flip and cook meat side down for just a minute or two. Return back to skin side to finish. This entire process should take no longer than 8 minutes. As with cooking any fish, you just have to remember one thing.. DON'T #$)*ING OVERCOOK IT! Remove the fish from the pan and then, you see all that bubbly, brown joy in the pan? Add a tablespoon of butter and the juice of 1 lemon. Add about 1tsp additional salt. Just get it all boiling nicely while you're plating the Trout. At the very last second add your capers to the pan and then immediately spoon the mixture onto your trout fillets. Top with green onions and serve!
Monday, November 4, 2013
Fishing at Vallecito was stellar... until it wasn't. Friday showed us one of those days that gives you a sore arm, Rainbow after Rainbow, some stockers, some large 20" + fish. Sunday was slow, just a few stockers. Great times!
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Too much of a good thing
It's been rough for a little while. We had so much moisture that the lake came up very drastically, so places where we stood in early September are now 20 feet below the surface. For whatever reason, temperature, clarity, just change in pressure, the fish have been sporadic at best. During the transition we had several very slow days. I think I can safely say it is over for now, and it's hog season! We've had several very large fish on the hook in the the last 3 or 4 days. Male Kokanee, with their bizzare jaws jutting out in a toothy grin, are hitting wooly buggers and generally going nuts. It's just been really really fun. I've been using red-lead eyed mini clouser-buggers in a maroon color with a gold wire. I haven't read the temperature but whatever it is, the Smallmouth don't seem to be biting anymore.. Maybe I've gotta fish lower, and slower. I didn't manage to bag an Elk, so it's time to start bringing home some fish goodies. One of the hens we brought home for dinner was full of eggs, so I made Ikura. It is absolutely delicious. I sadly have not fished the Animas in some time but I bet Sculpins are getting smacked right now. This, ladies and gentlemen, is my favorite time of year to fish. Put on some long johns, get some good gloves, bundle up and get out there!Male Kokanee on wooly bugger.
Brown Trout on Silver Kastmaster.
Brown Trout Filets
Trout Cake, Cocktail Sauce, Poached Egg, Cured Trout Roe
General Tso's Trout!
Friday, October 18, 2013
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
I bet I'll make it down there tomorrow. Heck, I might be down there all week. It just goes to show that it's losing the big ones that will keep you coming back with a passion. After a mediocre fishing summer during which I hardly experienced anything noteworthy that made me want to write, I've had a grand end of August and beginning of September. I mostly fished Vallecito, but I did get a chance to fish Beaver Lake in Marble. Holy crowded! I finally managed to haggle a canoe and get out on the water where I caught what you'd expect.. freshly stocked slimers. I did catch a nice Cutthroat that was the only hefty fish of the day. But... that's an entirely different story. Back to these Smallies.. They're biting at Vallecito. I'm becoming a big fan of these fish, they fight incredibly hard, they are extremely resilient and, at least in that lake, they taste delicious.
The limit on Smallmouth is 5 a day, and fish in the 8-12" range have nice fillets on them. Throw back the big mamas so they can lay their eggs. Smallies were illegally introduced into this body of water in 1970. Because they're inactive when the gill netting is done, there really isn't accurate data on how many there are. They like jigs, fished low and slow, and they like various crank baits as well. If I remember correctly from last year, they really stop biting around the first of October, so get on out there! Try Smallmouth in a fish n chips application, it's delicious!
Thursday, August 29, 2013
Monday, August 26, 2013
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
I'm no biologist but I think that Brookies and Cutthroat can coexist. I don't just think this because I want to, but rather because I've seen it. In creeks like that I keep Brookies and I let cutthroat swim away. If we all put a little pressure on the Brookies we can perhaps avoid these disastrous rotenone poisonings that these lunatics keep proposing. I'm all for a diverse and sound natural world, but at some point, they've lost sight of the fact that we are also part of nature. We didn't land here from space. This planet is also our home. Just as plants have spread around the world with their seeds carried on the fur of animals or in the droppings of birds, the Brook trout have clung to the sides of humans and come west. They are DELICIOUS, and they reproduce quickly. If the government were not there to manage them, they would do fine. The Brook trout merely outcompetes native fish for available resources and in some cases eats their young, (and their OWN young) but the darling poster child of fisheries management, the foul Rainbow Trout, does something much worse, it BREEDS with the natives, all but abolishing the pure bloodlines. With one hand they're poisoning Brook trout from streams while they stock Rainbows with the other hand. If the idea is to restore native fish, let's start with the real culprit and leave the noble Brookie out of it!
Saturday, May 11, 2013
Saturday, April 20, 2013
Saturday, April 13, 2013
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Saturday, April 6, 2013
Saturday, March 23, 2013
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Summer Citrus Salmon
4 Fresh Kokanee Salmon Filleted (The Kokes I used here were about 13")
1 small orange
1/4 thumb fresh ginger, minced
Small Jalapeño, seeds removed, diced
6 or 8 Cherry Tomatoes, halved
6 or 8 Fingerling Potatoes
Green Onion or Chives
Salt and Pepper
Boil the potatoes for about 20 minutes or until slightly soft, and then cut into even size slices, about 3/4 inch thick. Cut about half of the orange into small 1/2 inch pieces and mix with diced Ginger, Jalapeño, Tomatoes and Cilantro. This is your Salsa, sprinkle it with salt and lemon juice and set aside and let it come to room temperature. Juice the remaining orange, and mix with olive oil, some lemon juice and a bit of rice vinegar and salt. Stir well and taste. Let this come up to room temperature as well. At this point, I melt some butter in a small pan and throw in the potatoes to crisp the outsides, salt and pepper to taste. Time for the Kokanee... Get some oil in the pan and get it nice and hot. Salt the Kokanee fillets and add them quickly to the pan, skin down. Let'em sizzle! Flip briefly to make sure the tops are cooked and then right back to skin side. The object here is CRISPY skin, it's the best part of the Salmon if you ask me. Plate the potatoes in the center of the plate, flat sides up, and then top with the Salmon fillets, skin side up. Top THAT with the fruit salsa, and drizzle liberally with the vinaigrette. Let the vinaigrette pool up on the plate, it's nice to dip the crispy Salmon bits in it. Garnish with chopped chives and serve. I was slamming Mexican beers with this, however, for you culinary studs out there trying to make clothes fall off, I'd recommend a chilled Pinot Grigio, or, when it is warmer, a Vinho Verde.
Monday, March 11, 2013
Thursday, March 7, 2013
Thursday, February 28, 2013
Saturday, February 23, 2013
Friday, February 22, 2013
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Monday, February 18, 2013
Sunday, February 17, 2013
We caught lots of Perch. Based on suggestions received on our facebook page, I tried a bigger bait, hoping to keep the small perch away. I caught an 11.5" Perch on the first drop, and thought this advice was working. 4 hours later I had only 5 more that were certainly not 11" but were not too small. Yes, the bigger bait works, keep the little guys away. Yes, it also makes fishing a lot slower. I did manage to catch my first brown at Jackson, and it was gorgeous, one of the most beautiful fish I'd ever seen. Since the browns are also helping thin the Perch herd and make the Perch bigger and tastier, I released this fish. I tried to take a picture but he released himself before I could finish releasing him. Or something. We came home and based on our new friend's suggestion just fried the little guys after head/ tail /gutting them. They were tasty but tough eating with all the spines, bones, and fins. The bigger fish, breaded and fried, were about the best thing I've ever eaten.
I started with a 16" Rainbow Trout. I prefer this recipe with Kokanee but they simply weren't biting at Vallecito yesterday. I cook my fish for about 15 minutes at 400 and remove from the oven. Before it is too cool, remove the skin and gently pull the meat from the bones and place it in a large bowl. I spend a somewhat ridiculous amount of time picking through the fish to make sure all the little pin bones have been removed. Sure, they're pliant and edible but what wants bones in their sushi? Of course while this is happening you're cooking your sushi rice. The rice is the most important thing, get it right. If that means trying to make it a few times before you serve this to someone whose pants you're trying to remove, do it, nothing says "chump" like bad sushi rice! For the filling I mix the deboned trout with a pinch of salt, a spoonful of Japanese mayonnaise (regular ol mayo works just fine too) and a healthy squirt of Siracha pepper sauce. Stir it all well and you've got spicy trout filling that is deboned, cooked and glows with a bright red/orange hue. I like to cut sheets of nori in half, lightly cover one side with rice then flip onto a sushi roller covered in saran wrap. Oh yeah, you've got a sushi roller right? It's a mat of bamboo dowels that allows you to easily shape your rolls. They'll cost you a couple bucks and for this purpose, they can be easily covered with saran wrap, which is taped on both to keep the rice off the bamboo. Flip the rice covered nori onto the bamboo mat (easy to do if you make it on a little cutting board) and place your filling in a line down the middle. I like to add a strip of cucumber here too for crunch and color. You want to achieve a balance of flavor and texture. Try your first roll. Do you feel like it's hard to swallow and you just ate a ball of dough? Too much rice. Experimentation is the key to getting it right with this and all foods. A recipe just points you onto the right road, how you drive is up to you. There are plenty of sushi how-tos online, I'd check out of few of them, I am, after all, about as Japanese as Bratwurst. Good luck!
1 cup sushi rice
1.75 cup water
2 tablespoons Rice Vinegar
1.5 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Mix the Vinegar, Sugar and Salt with a little heat and pour over the rice when it is done cooking, mix well but don't mangle your rice grains, keep them intact!
1 Nice Trout (or a few Kokanee)
1 heaping spoon of mayo
1 heaping spoon Siracha
Salt to taste
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
People say things. It's amazing the odd things they say. On my way out I stopped over by where we normally fish to ask these guys if they'd caught Kokanee. One of the local fellas asked me what I used to catch my fish and I said "A little pink jig tipped with a piece of corn." "Don't let the game warden catch you... corn is illegal to use, you'll get 5 years in prison!" I resisted the urge to laugh and tell the guy he was batshit crazy, so I just said "corn is legal to use as bait in Colorado" and ended with that. I was told about a local who was arrested for using corn as bait. Funny, because during my research on how to catch Kokanee last year, I looked up the regs to make sure corn is legal to use, because the Kokes love it. So, before you say anything to someone about what is legal, please READ THE REGS.
Note: I sent an email off to our local CPW Biologist about the corn thing. Corn is legal. Celebrate!