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Freshwater Fish

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

I recently read a post about smoking crappie and bass.  Many folks don't seem to like freshwater fish, especially catfish.  I thought I might pass this on so more folks can enjoy freshwater fish.  I grew up on the banks of a big freshwater lake in Tx.  I learned from my Grandpa and he learned from his Dad.  I would put properly prepared catfish up against any fish in the world.  It's all in the prep.  The largest catfish we caught was 58 lbs but had many in the 20-30 lb. range..  ALWAYS had a freezer full of fish.  We had so much of it that many times we just ate fried fish and sliced bread for a meal.  This method will also work for farm raised fish.  So far everyone who has tried it has been converted.  This method does in my opinion make the fish so delicate that smoke would probably over power the fish.  I am sure you all have had freshwater fish and been hit with that REALLY STRONG fish taste.  In some cases almost a "muddy fish taste".  REALLY NASTY!  Below is a tried and true method of preparing freshwater fish, especially catfish.  Give it a try!

 

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  5-7 MINUTES BEFORE PROCEEDING.  A MINUTE OR 2 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  ( that's the trick along with soaking in ice water ).  RINSE THE FILLETS IN COLD TAP WATER.  COVER THE FILLETS WITH ICE AND WATER.  PLACE FILLETS IN A ZIP LOCK BAG OR BOWL WITH TIGHT FITTING LID.  SEAL CONTAINER WELL.  PLACE IN THE REFRIDGERATOR A MINIMUM OF 2 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.

 

Cooking:  Remove from ice water.  If a large fish slice the fillets length ways to about 1/4"-3/8" thick.  Shake off excess water and roll in seasoned ( salt and pepper ) cornmeal.  Deep fry till golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.  This will leave you with a VERY delicate mild tasting fish.  Wouldn't steer ya wrong.  That discolored meat is where the nasty taste come from.  Like cleaning game, you gotta cut out "bloodshot" meat and certain glands depending on the animal.  Give it a try and see what you think.  We can discuss freshwater soft shell turtle in another thread.  :icon_biggrin:  Keep Smokin!

Danny

post #2 of 17

Danny, I have eaten fresh water fish of all type all my life, including catfish.  Right now, I would not give you a nickel for all the catfish in the world.  I've cleaned them exactly as you describe and I can still taste that "muddy" flavor.  Now my whole family loves catfish but I just will not eat it.  I love crappie, bass, bream etc just no catfish for me. 

post #3 of 17

I love, love, LOVE catfish, ESPECIALLY Flatheads.  Crappie is probably my #2 but close tie with the cats.  This is probably because i've grown up by the Mississippi River and grandpa loves to fish catfish - not so much bass/crappie.  I guess I don't really taste the fishy ness as much as some, perhaps because i'm use to it.  We will either fillet or keep some cats boned and cut up, then we put in the deep fryer with some andy's fish badder.  Mmm Mmm good... 

 

Never tried smoking it, maybe next summer I will if I get brave enough to "Fix something that ain't broke".. I can say I did try smoking store bought trout once.. Definitely tasted the fishiness in that, and wasn't a fan.  Maybe I just didn't brine or cook quite right.  I smoked it whole with some salmon i had.  

post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 

Hello Bear.  A Miss. boy who doesn't like catfish"?  To each his own.  I have found that with trimming the discolored meat and soaking in ice water that nasty taste is taken away.  Different strokes and all.  I don't like mackerel because of the strong fish taste.  Guess I can't convert everyone.  ARE YOU SURE?? How about a blind taste test??   :ROTF  Can't blame me for trying.  :icon_biggrin:  Keep Smokin!

Danny

post #5 of 17

Like you I don't care for mackerel either. 

post #6 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bear55 View Post
 

Danny, I have eaten fresh water fish of all type all my life, including catfish.  Right now, I would not give you a nickel for all the catfish in the world.  I've cleaned them exactly as you describe and I can still taste that "muddy" flavor.  Now my whole family loves catfish but I just will not eat it.  I love crappie, bass, bream etc just no catfish for me. 

 

Isn't it funny how taste differ.  Being raised on channel catfish and now living in an area without them, they are craved.  The only crappie we would eat were the ones caught through the ice.  Now we live in a area with plenty of bass and pike and throw them back keeping only perch and walleye. 

 

Tom

 

 

Originally Posted by KC5TPY View Post
 

 We can discuss freshwater soft shell turtle in another thread.  :icon_biggrin:  Keep Smokin!

Danny

 

Snapper and soft shell turtle has been  my family's favorite meat since I can remember.  I have always said "The only thing better than turtle is the gravy".

 

Tom 

post #7 of 17

A soak in buttermilk will also reduce the fishy taste. I have had good catfish and some bad catfish. Not my favorite fresh water fish. Crappie rules for me. To bad I cant find crappie in the 5 to 15 lb range...lol

 

The only smoked fish I have eaten is smoked whiting. It was absolutely delicious. I ate it when I was a kid. Wish I had some again.

 

Thanks for the info Danny..................Thumbs Up

 

Joe

post #8 of 17

Danny good info. I will also add to that if you are doing more than one batch of cooking. If the corn meal gets wet throw it out and start again with fresh.

I learned when working around the catfish farms in the Delta that fish come into flavor. They will catch one and cook to see if they are in flavor. If not do it again the next day un till they are in flavor then catch the whole pond quicklly.

Happy smoken.

David

post #9 of 17
Best catfish are the 2-3 lb ones. Bigger is ok but can be muddy. Lived on the Gulf Coast for 10 years, and the east coast for 5. I am feom central Mississippi originally and now in the Denver area. I will still take farm raised catfish over most other fish anyday. It is hard to beat if cooked right and is an easy fish to cook multiple ways.
post #10 of 17

KC5TPY, thanks for the information.  I've heard that about the dark colored meat before.  I've never caught a catfish over 5 pounds yet (but wasn't trying too either).  I've ate bass, white bass, crappie, grayling, and fresh caught salmon.  I'm sure I'm leaving some out.  The only smoked fish I have ever had was salmon, but I'm kind of new to the whole smoking thing.  Both me and my wife like fish, if I catch a big one I'll keep your recommendation in mind.

 

Thanks

Ed

post #11 of 17

Like was discussed in another thread about salmon, when and where it's caught has a big effect on catfish quality. Here in Oregon I have eaten cats caught in the John Day river as well as Snake river, Brownlee Reservoir, and upper Columbia. The quality is excellent. I have also eaten some great tasting cats from the Colorado river. I have also eaten some larger catfish caught in Clearlake CA that weren't great.

post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 

Hello.  Salmon is a totally different "kettle of fish" so to speak.  Some folks do like that stronger flavor of fish; if you are one of those folks then more power to ya.  If however you find some fish too strong then give this method a try.  I never ever purchased fish until moving to England.  Not in a grocery or a restaurant.  I did eat fish more often than I do now.  I have to admit that my experience with catfish is limited to Mathis Lake ( Lake Corpus Christi ) in Tx. and the rivers that feed the lake.  Stripers, white bass, crappie, large mouth bass, fresh water drum ( gaspergou ) and gar ( Beautiful white flesh but hard to get out of the shell ) from the same area and at all times of the year.  Red drum, black drum, speckled trout, gafftop, grouper, ling, flounder, whiting etc., ect. from the Tx. gulf coast, year round.  Now being here in England: cod, halibut and one grocery is selling a Vietnamese catfish.  I have tried all these fish trimmed and untrimmed.  I'll take trimmed any day.  Try a taste test yourself.  Next time you buy or catch a fish have a look at the fillet.  You will see some red flesh and depending on the species some yellowish flesh and maybe some dark grey flesh.  From the same fish, trim one fillet and leave the other untouched.  The red flesh running along the lateral line also needs to be removed.  Flour and fry or cornmeal and fry and see what you think.  Trim and ice water.  I think many folks will be surprised.  Just my opinion. Form your own opinion.

Danny

post #13 of 17
I too grew up on catfish,bass etc. With some saltwater trout and a few others. In florida. I love wild caught cats. But don't care for farm raised. The taste and especially the texture don't compare. I don't even like pond raised that are fed pellets. My favorite FW fish are walleye, crappie (speckled perch) and catfish (channels are best) in that order. As for the Vietnamese catfish, you don't want to know what they feed them :( thanks for your prep info in this thread!!
post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 

I have always prefered Blue cats.  Never had the chance to try walleye or pike.  Pike here in England are avoided like the plague.  Folks just won't eat them.  Don't know why, they are a game fish.  Can't fish over here.  ALL waterways and the banks are owned by someone.  Folks own that part of the river that runs through their land and the rights to fish that part of the river.  No public waterways other than the canals and fish in those are few and far between.  SO, in order to do any fresh water fishing you must pay the land owner for the privilege and he controls what fish can be taken and kept; usually that means NONE.  Strictly catch and release.  BIG carp fishing community over here; why I DO NOT KNOW!!  Guess I am old school but why you would waste time fishing for something you aren't gonna eat is beyond me.  I DO catch and release if too small or I have caught a bunch but would not waste my time fishing for carp.

Danny

post #15 of 17

Boykjo says a buttermilk soak and I just do a straight milk soak overnight-does wonders for any fish. Not good though for smoking because the fillets won't soak up brine after soaking up the milk.

post #16 of 17

I did a buttermilk soak with bluefish...  This is how I prepared them after the soak. they were wonderful...lol

 

What I do is delicately flavor those tender morsels of fish with some old bay, pepper and some salt. get yourself some wooden planks Oak, Cedar, birch, any kind will do and place onions carrots garlic mushrooms etc... on the plank and carefully place those filet's on the planks and smoke them @ 275 for about 2hrs flipping them half way through........ when they get golden brown remove the planked fish and throw away the fish and eat the planks.............

post #17 of 17
Interesting. That's been my carp recipe since I was a kid. Wonderful flavor.
Greg
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