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Paddle Fish - I may have found my 1st Nemesis: Experiment

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

This is one fish that has succeeded at stumping me. I've never eaten it before, and the person who gave it to me (2 pkgs approx. 1lb ea, frozen) said he doesn't know what to do with it, so thought he'd give me some so I can try and figure something out with it...he can't eat it...too strong for him. It's a very strong and heavy flavor...I knew this up front based on what I was told...but just how strong and heavy? Oh, I had no idea. I have over 3/4lb still marinating after a fry-pan test of two strips which marinated for 21 hours @ 33-34*. Marinating time is now over 75 hours with an average temp of 36* (I re-adjusted my fridge temp and let it warm up a bit) for the remaining strips, but I have no desire to continue this pursuit with the existing marinade...the fry test (no additional seasoning, fried in butter and drizzled with lemon juice to taste) yielded a flesh that was so overwhelming, I can't bring myself to smoke it...can't decide what wood could possible make this any better, as I don't have a good flavor to start with...it doesn't seem it could end well. The aromas while frying probably told me more than I wanted to know...failure. The taste from the fry test vaguely reminded me of salmon, mixed with channel cat, but mostly something else of which I care not to mention...I could barely taste the lemon at all and only on the surface, it was that strong...confirming what I already knew from the smell. I didn't want to re-season after marinating, as I want to taste the marinade...if I can't, then marinating is all for nothing. I have 1 more package still in the freezer while I try to decide what to do with it.

 

Here's the marinade:

 

(for 1lb of Paddle Fish strips)

4 Tbs Italian Dressing
4 Tbs Lemon Juice
2 Tbs Worsty Sauce
1 Tbs Sesame Oil
1 Tbs minced Garlic (from jar)
2 Tbs Frank's Red Hot Sauce
2 tsp crushed Red Pepper
1 tsp ground Black Pepper

 

 

I figured a little heat would help take the edge off of the strong flavor, but that was monumental failure...I couldn't even tell that there was anything hot in this marinade.

 

Just into the marinate, partially frozen:

 

 

After tossing a few times over about 30 minutes at room temp to finish thawing:

 

 

The remains are still in the fridge, covered, and going nowhere anytime soon...(insert sigh here).

 

This was fairly well seasoned, yet it seemed to offer little to nothing for enhancement of this fish. There was no flavor from the hot sauce, crushed red pepper, or anything from the Italian dressing, including vinegar...the lemon flavor was almost totally non-existent, even with drizzling more over the strips after frying. The sesame oil, garlic. black pepper and worsty sauce had very limited impact on the overall flavor...this is one mean and seriously stout flavored fish...I've never experienced anything like it. I know that my fridge temps were a bit low for marinating, but felt that with the longer time I allowed, it should have balanced things out....that didn't happen at all.

 

I thought about doing a brine first, then thought a marinade over a longer exposure time may be a better route for this adventure, feeling that instead of drawing flavors out with salt that I should enhance them, instead. And, no, I could not find any info here on SMF about this creature, odd as it may sound. So, that's it...if I think of another seasoning blend or method for the other package of fish (or if someone has something else to offer that can take better control of the flavor profile than the above recipe), maybe I'll have a chance at enjoying this Paddle Fish, but right now, I can't eat any more of it...I managed to eat the 2 strips I fried, and I had to stop with that. I'm still amazed at how strong that flavor was. I've eaten a few things over the years that were a challenge, but this tops the list.

 

I may need to fully thaw and pound the strips with a mallet before the next attempt at a brine or marinate...give it more surface area to soak into the flesh of this fish...I guess that's a start, anyway, but what to season it with...that's the question. I may split the last package into 2 or 3 separate batches and do one with a brine, the other with a marinade and the third with a heavily seasoned beer batter and fried. This just may be one fish that isn't a good candidate for smoking, regardless of preparation treatments...dunno. I have lots of time to figure it out ('til the fish is destroyed from being in the freezer too long), but, man, I'm stumped...and I hate to lose...LOL!!!

 

Any thoughts on how to proceed?

 

Thanks!!!

 

 

Eric

post #2 of 7

:jedismily:

 

Behold the power of the paddlefish!

 

Maybe take 1 oz of fish and wrap it in 3 lbs. of bacon? :biggrin:

post #3 of 7
I've never had paddle fish but it sounds like it might be similar to bluefish. If bluefish isn't bled and brined properly it has an almost unbearably fishy flavor.
Nothing you can do about the bleeding process now, but a 24-48 hour brine followed by smoking with a stronger wood like hickory might get you something edible. Lots of folks make a spread or dip by cooking bluefish this way then flaking it and adding horseradish and capers.
The brine will draw out the fishy flavor as opposed to a marinade which will just sort of sit on top of it.
You also might shoot Leah Elisheva a pm, she seems to know her way around a fish petty well.
post #4 of 7

Hello Eric.  I would say your battle was lost before you got the fish.  Andrew was right on track in my opinion.  I grew up on a several thousand acre lake in Tx.  There are tricks learned through generations about how to deal with fish.  Many folks eat store bought farm raised catfish and order it in restaurants.  I wouldn't put that sh**tuff in my mouth.  I NEVER order fish in a restaurant.  I can prepare a lake caught catfish that will rival ANY white flesh fish in the world you have ever tasted.  Below is the procedure passed from Grandpa to Dad to me.  Have your friend follow the procedure and try again.

 

YOU CAN LEARN TO SKIN AND FILLET FISH FROM MANY DIFFERENT SOURCES.  THESE ARE TIPS TO AVOID THAT "FISHY/MUDDY" TASTE.  FOR LARGER LIVE FISH; 5 lbs. OR MORE, IT IS IMPORTANT TO CUT OFF THE TAIL AND ALLOW THE BLOOD TO DRAIN FOR AT LEAST 10 MINUTES BEFORE PROCEEDING.  THE FISH MUST BE ALIVE WHEN YOU CUT OFF THE TAIL!  I know , I know!  Here we go with animal rights and animal cruelty but this is butchering.  In my opinion if the animal is going to die, every edible part should be used.  If I leave out that part you may well throw the whole thing in the trash.  A 2-3 MINUTES IS FINE FOR SMALLER ONES.  REMOVE THE SKIN FROM ALL FISH.  REMOVE ANY REMAINING BONES AFTER FILLETING.  TRIM OFF ANY RED, YELLOW OR DARK "MUD" COLORED FLESH.  RINSE THE FILLETS IN COLD TAP WATER.  COVER THE FILLETS WITH ICE.  PLACE FILLETS IN A ZIP LOCK BAG OR BOWL WITH TIGHT FITTING LID.  PLACE IN THE FRIDGE A MINIMUM OF 6-8 HOURS (OVER NIGHT IS EVEN BETTER).  REMOVE FILLETS FROM CONTAINER.  RINSE WITH COLD TAP WATER.  COOK THE FISH, OR PLACE FILLETS INTO ANOTHER CONTAINER.  COVER FILLETS WITH TAP WATER.  SEAL CONTAINER WELL AND FREEZE.  BE SURE TO COMPLETELY THAW FILLETS BEFORE COOKINg.

 

The ice helps with the strong taste.  The odd colored meat is where the REALLY nasty taste comes from.  Yellow is fat, and red is blood soaked.  Like when you shoot a deer you need to get rid of the "bloodshot"/bloody meat.  Keep Smokin!

Danny

post #5 of 7

The other guys are right. The fish was cleaned wrong, and with spoonbill that will instantly give you horrible meat. We've caught several of them in the past here in Mo, the last time out my buddy caught one that was 89 lbs.

To clean them right you need to cut around the tail w/o severing the spine, and pull the whole thing out and then go from there. If you don't the meat gets tainted and will taste weird. You also need to trim all of the discolored meat and other bits, i.e. red, yellow, etc. You want meat only. Other than the spine they are boneless so at that point it is easy going.

 

These are some ugly as hell fish, but they can be good eating when cleaned properly. But you cannot be in a hurry like they are some small bluegill, they take some finesse.

 

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post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks guys! I hadn't even considered that the fish may not have been handled properly...not knowing the angler's abilities, skill's or knowledge, this is a very real possibility. I'll be tossing all of this, and I'll inform the individual who I received it from...no point in fighting a losing battle.

 

Thanks again!!!

 

 

Eric

post #7 of 7

Hi Eric!

 

Sorry to hear about your fish, but still believe that with a fresh batch, ANY fish is just delicious!

 

I'm having bluefish today - one of my very favorites - and am looking forward to it!

 

Hopefully we'll see more attempts from you, as it can be great!!

 

Meanwhile, happy Thursday!!!!!!!

 

Cheers! - Leah

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