It may come as no surprise that when we asked BHA fans what their favorite backcountry meal was, “trout” was hands down the most common answer. After all, nothing quite beats a meal of fresh meat after eating dehydrated or processed meals for days on end. Given the popularity of this backcountry treat and that it’s getting to be that time of year again, I thought I’d share a few favorite backcountry fish cooking techniques. Got one that we don’t? Be sure to share it below.
The Northwesterner – A Native Alaskan favorite. This method is simple, natural and leaves little mess. Wrap-up one seasoned fish (fileted or whole) in 4+ large leaves of Skunk Cabbage (more for whole fish). Place the wrapped fish on a bed of coals and cook until fish feels semi-firm, unwrap and enjoy. The Skunk Cabbage will keep your fish moist without any oil or butter, while also give the fish a tangy flavor.
Bagged & Processed – Good dehydrated backpacking meal = misnomer, except maybe(?) when spruced-up with a batch of fresh caught fish. Simply boil, fry, or roast on fire and remove the bones from the meat. For a little extra flavor and protein, the fish can be added to: Ramen, dehydrated backpacking meals, scalloped potatoes, dehydrated soup mixes, pasta meals, or…the wide open sky’s really the limit.
El Natural – While the straight-over-the-fire method can produce mixed results, many folks swear by this simplistic, yet delicious method. Simply whittle yourself a sturdy skewer stick, season and skewer your fish, then cook it over the fire like a marshmallow.
Fried! – A bit messy/heavy for backpacking, fried fish is a must on backcountry float, canoe or fly-in fishing trips. You’ll need enough butter/oil to cover the bottom of a pan, seasoning and breading, if you so desire. And if you don’t have to worry about weight, you could even bring a little tartar sauce?
Fish ‘n Foil – An excellent over-the-campfire option, the Fish n’ Foil is a simple technique that produces delicious fish and no dirty pan. Using multiple layers of foil, wrap your seasoned fish up into a foil boat along with a good dose of butter, oil, or when in a pinch water can work. For a complete foil dinner potatoes, onions and vegetables can be added. When carefully wrapped so all seems are upright, place the foil boat on a bed of coals and simmer until the fish is flaky and vegetables are soft.
At the end of the (exhausting) day, there really is no wrong way to cook a fish in the backcountry. Do you have a favorite backcountry fish recipe?
Photos Courtesy of Eric Jensen and Josh Leavitt, 2012 Angling Photo Contest