You’ve spent the day on the ice with your fishing line, and wonder of wonders! You’ve caught enough fish to serve everyone a delicious fresh fish dinner. But wait! How do you cook it? Well, first you need to clean, scale, and gut your fresh fish, then you need to decide how you want to cook it…

Grilled Whole Fish

There are some who’d argue that doing anything other than grilling your just-caught fish whole is a travesty. When fish is this fresh, throwing it on the outdoor grill with little more than salt, pepper, and maybe some sliced lemon and herbs is a taste sensation like no other.

How do you cook it?

Take your cleaned, scaled, and gutted whole fish and cut a few diagonal slashes on each side. Brush the skin with a little oil, then season with salt and pepper. If you’d like, pop a few slices of lemon, thinly sliced fennel, fresh herbs, and/or chili into the cavity of the fish. Preheat the grill to medium high and clean it well then, just before cooking, oil the grill grate. Cook the fish for 5-15 minutes per side, depending on the size and thickness of the fish, flipping over once a small knife enters the thickest part of the fish with no resistance.

Grilled Fish Fillets

Got someone at the cottage handy enough to not only clean and scale your just-caught fish, but fillet it too? Brilliant! Can we borrow him or her?

How do you cook it?

“Meatier” fish are particularly well suited to being grilled as fillets, so if you’ve got fresh swordfish, tuna, or salmon steaks on hand, lucky you! Very lightly oil each side of the fish and season with salt and pepper, then place on a preheated, cleaned, and lightly oiled grill. Leave the fish alone for 3-4 minutes so that it develops a bit of a crust, then turn and cook for about the same time, until cooked to your liking. For lighter, more delicate fish, handle carefully on the grill and be aware that, the thinner the fillet, the less time it will take to cook. Serve simply with fresh lemon, a lime butter sauce, or tartar sauce.

Foil-Baked Campfire Fish

Combine the delicate flavour of just-caught fish with the slight smokiness that comes from cooking over a campfire and you might just find this is the best meal of your entire cottage getaway.

How do you cook it?

For every cleaned fish fillet, layer two sheets of foil on top of each other and lightly grease with olive oil or butter. Place fish on top and season with salt and pepper. Top with sliced lemon, fresh dill (if you have it), and dot with a little more butter or oil. Fold in sides of foil and make sure to seal the packet well. Place packets on grate over hot coals for about 15 minutes, or until cooked through. To make a more balanced meal, add some sliced zucchini and bell peppers to the foil packets before sealing, too.

Super Simple Fish Stew

Just say you caught a fair few fresh fish but your filleting skills leave a little to be desired, and instead of thick single fish fillets, you now have a pile of oddly-sized fish pieces. Never fear, campfire fish stew is here!

How do you make it? 

In a saucepan, sauté a chopped onion with 2 crushed cloves of garlic in 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add ½ cup fresh chopped parsley and a can of chopped tomatoes. Simmer for 10 minutes. If you have it, tip in ½ cup white wine (share the rest of the bottle between guests) and 1 ½ pounds of fresh fish, cut into 2-inch pieces. Sprinkle in your favourite fish-friendly herbs and spices, such as oregano, thyme, lemon juice, chili flakes, and salt and pepper. Simmer for 8-10 minutes, until fish is cooked through. Divide between four bowls.


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