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Fixin’ Fish

Fixin’ Fish: A Guide to Handling, Buying, Preserving, and Preparing Fish

Jeffrey Gunderson
Illustrated by Leanne Alexander-Witzig
Copyright Date: 1984
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 64
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  • Book Info
    Fixin’ Fish
    Book Description:

    Whether you catch it yourself or buy it, fish can be a delicious, nutritious meal or an experience you’d rather forget. Because fish are delicate and perishable, preserving their fresh-caught flavor requires careful handling. Fixin’ Fish provides anglers and fish buyers with helpful techniques, not covered in most cookbooks, for handling, cleaning, preserving, preparing, and buying fish of all kinds. Topics covered include: maintaining the quality of fresh fish, building a smokehouse, smoking, canning, pickling, making fish jerky and caviar, and checking fish for parasites. Sport fishermen will find the section on field dressing and packing especially useful. Minnesota and neighboring states have an abundance of fish that are usually overlooked as a food source. These underutilized fish, which include suckers, eelpout (burbot), carp, bullheads, herring, and freshwater drum, can be delicious if handled and prepared properly. The special techniques described in this book will help anyone make good use of this inexpensive and tasty source of protein. Fixin’ Fish is published by the University of Minnesota Sea Grant Extension Program. This new edition updates the text and adds information on parasites that can be found on freshwater fish in the Minnesota region.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-5529-8
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Preface
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. vi-viii)
  4. nutrition and economics Why eat fish?
    (pp. 1-5)

    Evidence indicates there is a direct relationship between the kind of food we eat and our health. Fish contain unique nutritional qualities which make them desirable additions to our menus. In fact, nutritionists recommend that fish and seafood be eaten more often. The following is a list of reasons why this food is so nutritionally appealing.

    Fish is a complete protein food. All of the essential amino acids necessary for good nutrition are present in fish muscle.

    Fish protein is easily digestible. Because fish muscle fibers are shorter than those found in red meat and fish contains less connective tissue,...

  5. maintaining quality Get the best from your catch
    (pp. 6-8)

    Fish is one of the most delicate and perishable of all foods. While red meat tends to improve with aging, fish never tastes as good as when it comes fresh from the water. Preserving the fresh taste of your catch requires constant care from the time it is caught or purchased to the time it is eaten.

    If you had a T-bone steak, would you let it sit in the bottom of an oily, dirty boat or drag it around in warm water all day – and still expect it to taste good? Of course not. Follow these procedures and...

  6. freezing fish Fishcicles
    (pp. 9-11)

    Freezing is the best way of preserving the quality of fish. With proper care at each step of the procedure for freezing fish, your fish will retain its fresh flavor for many months.

    The quality of frozen fish is controlled by many factors. Consideration must be given to 1. the type of protective packaging used, 2. maintenance of proper storage temperature and 3. freezing properties of different species.

    Many people believe once fish are frozen their quality is preserved. This is not true — improperly frozen fish develop a bad taste and become very dry and tough. Follow these procedures...

  7. filleting techniques Cutting up in style
    (pp. 12-18)

    To obtain the highest flavor from your catch, field dress fish as soon as possible after they are removed from the water. Field dressing involves removing the gills and the guts as described below.

    Make a cut from under the chin where the two gill openings meet to the vent – just in front of the anal fin. Be careful not to cut into the intestine. If intestine is ruptured, wash body cavity thoroughly.

    Remove entrails. It is also important to remove the kidney which is the dark material along the backbone, often covered by a silvery membrane. Scrape out...

  8. scoring, flaking, grinding A bone to pick
    (pp. 19-21)

    Minnesota has an abundance of fish which are generally overlooked but readily available to sport fishermen and shoppers. The problem with such fish as sucker, carp and northern pike is that they are too bony. When properly prepared, these fish make delicious, inexpensive, convenient and nutritious meals.

    The bones that have given these fish such a bad reputation are the floating, forked bones, commonly called y-bones. As their name indicates, these y-shaped bones are not attached to the backbone or skeletal structure but suspended in the flesh and therefore cannot be removed by normal filleting techniques. There are five techniques...

  9. fish jerky Dry it, youʹll like it
    (pp. 22-23)

    Drying fish at home is an easy, economical way to preserve your catch. Any fish can be used to make fish jerky. Jerky makes a great snack and can be carried easily by backpackers, boaters, or campers. Jerky will last for about two months if wrapped in waxed paper and kept in a cool, dry place.

    1. For best flavor and texture, start with fresh fish or good quality frozen fish. If fish is frozen, thaw in refrigerator and drain off excess water.

    2. Fillet fish and cut into strips approximately 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thick and 2 inches wide. Use...

  10. salting fish Salt it away
    (pp. 24-25)

    Salt preserves fish by removing water from the flesh so bacteria cannot grow. If enough salt is used, fish may keep as long as a year when stored in a cool dry place. Salting is especially useful for storing fish that you plan to smoke or pickle or if you are short of freezer space.

    Most fish can be preserved by salting. Generally, the salt brine preserves lean fish better than oily fish (lean fish become rancid less easily), but oily fish can be excellent when salted.

    Salt used in this process should be pure and clear. Use pickling or...

  11. canning fish Put a lid on it
    (pp. 26-29)

    Canning is a method of commercially preserving tuna, salmon, sardines and other fish. Canning may also be done in the home using species of fish locally available. An alternative to freezing, home canning of fish has some distinct advantages. Canning:

    will preserve fish for up to one year;

    softens bones so that they can be eaten unnoticed along with the meat;

    produces a moist, flaky product that may be used similarly to commercially canned fish.

    Fish, as well as red meats, poultry, and vegetables (except tomatoes),must be canned in a pressure cooker. Temperatures higher than boiling (212 degrees F)...

  12. pickling fish Put your fish in a pickle
    (pp. 30-32)

    Pickling is an easy and delicious technique for preserving fish. Usually when people think of pickled fish, they think of pickled herring which is sold commercially. Many other fish, however, can be pickled at home. We in Minnesota have a variety of fish that lend themselves well to pickling: northern pike, smelt, trout, salmon, burbot, sucker. Individual taste and availability of fish are the only limitations to the kinds of fish you can pickle.

    The fish must be cooked or frozen in order to kill the larvae of the broad fish tapeworm, a parasite which can infect humans. Although the...

  13. making caviar A touch of ʺroe-manceʺ
    (pp. 33-33)

    Caviar is a fishery product many people enjoy but rarely eat because it tends to be expensive. It is very easy to make, and the eggs from almost any fish species including trout, salmon, sucker, sturgeon, whitefish and burbot can be used. The eggs of gar are sometimes toxic and should not be eaten.

    For high quality caviar, eggs should be taken just before they are fully developed. If the eggs can be forced out of the fish with a slight pressure on the abdomen they are ʺripeʺ and will make a soft, inferior caviar. Eggs that are immature or...

  14. smoking techniques Where thereʹs smoke
    (pp. 34-36)

    You can prepare delicious smoked fish yourself. Smoking is a method of fish preparation that can be as simple or complex as you like. There are many misconceptions about smoking fish; the most common is the time it takes. Depending on the degree of dryness and amount of smoky flavor desired, hot-smoked (kippered) fish require from 2 to 12 hours of smoking and cooking. Cool-smoked fish require a heavier brine, a lower smokehouse temperature and take from one to ten days to be smoked and dried. Cool-smoking is seldom done, except to preserve fish for long periods, and is not...

  15. building a smoker Engineering a smokehouse
    (pp. 37-39)

    Building a smokehouse or smoking chamber can be very easy. Basically all you need to produce delicious smoked fish is a system that provides four things:

    1. a source of heat

    2. a source of smoke

    3. a chamber to contain the heat and smoke

    4. a device to support the fish within the chamber

    The following methods of constructing a smoker contain these four essentials. When examining the different types of smokers keep in mind that these four basics can be interchanged to suit your specific needs.

    No matter which type of smokehouse construction you chcose, follow the recommendations given in chapter eleven...

  16. basic fish cookery Fixinʹ fish
    (pp. 40-43)

    Remember — fish is easily overcooked. If overcooked, fish will become tough, dry and lose flavor. It is easy to tell when fish are cooked: the watery translucent look of raw fish will turn to an opaque whitish color. Cooked flesh will also separate into flakes when pulled at with a fork.

    Below, the basics of the different cooking methods are presented. Refer to the ʺTimetable for Cooking Fishʺ for temperature and cooking time. These are not recipes but only tips on cooking methods commonly called for in many recipes.

    BAKING is indirect dry heat cooking.

    Place fish in a...

  17. parasites Are the fish good enough to eat?
    (pp. 44-54)

    Finally, the long-awaited strike. You set the hook and know immediately itʹs a good fish. The battle is lengthy, and you breathe a sigh of relief as your net slips under the only fish of the day. Although itʹs not one for the wall, it will be admired at the dinner table. Or will it? You look closer and notice your fish is covered with tiny black spots. Your first inclination is to throw the fish away. Before you do, check this chapter–your fish is probably still edible.

    Anglers occasionally catch a fish marked by infection or parasitism. But...

  18. Bibliography
    (pp. 55-56)