Archive for the 'Foods' Category

Dec 11 2020

Whitefish Fishing 4: Salting the Fish

Published by under Foods

I sometimes dry whitefish, just like I do with trout. However, they are very oily and go rancid fast so I prefer to brine salt them. Stored this way they easily keep for half a year.

The process is pretty simple. I use a wooden barrel, since it is more hygienic than using plastic. Capping the barrel is not necessary unless transporting the barrel with the fish in. Make sure it is waterproof though. If it isn’t, soak it in water for a day or two and try again.

I always clean and scale the fish before doing this, although apparently one can do it without any preparations.

Start with sprinkling a layer of coarse salt at the bottom. I only ever use coarse sea salt because it is more easily handled and extremely cheap.

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Every fish gets some salt in the gut cavity and is laid opposite each other in the way shown, belly up.

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Between every layer of fish you add more salt and eventually also on the very top.

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After relatively short time, a lot of moisture will draw out of the fish and completely submerge them. Some people use weights, but I have never found that to be necessary.

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More layers can be added when available. I did not finish a complete layer on this particular batch, but added an arctic char and brown trout on top.

That is all there is to it. When you are going to use the fish for cooking they should be leached for 2 days in frequent changes of water or in a river like I do. I put them in a net-sack, anchored to a bush along the shore. This will allow for a lot of water exchange and quite thorough desalination. You don’t want to oversoak the fish, experience has shown 2 days to be just right. If oversoaked, the fish will get extremely bland, if undersoaked it will be too salty.

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Nov 26 2020

Whitefish Fishing 3: Grilling

Published by under Foods

Grilling is my favourite way of preparing whitefish, and this method also works well for other fatty trout species.

First part of the process is to cut slits in the skin (and a bit into the flesh) all the way along on both sides. This will make the fish grill much more thoroughly than if the skin was left intact. Cut the tail off as well, as this is where the stick will enter.

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Enter the stick along the spine up to the head, making sure the stick does not come out into the body cavity or out through the skin. This method will make it far easier to turn the fish while you grill it, than if you had threaded through the cavity. You can do the aforementioned cutting in the skin after threading the fish if you find that easier.

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The fire should preferably have burned down to mostly coals. I don’t like grilling over flames because it burns more easily and turns black with soot. Cook the fish on both sides until golden. The fins might burn off and that is fine. Also grill a bit inside the cavity to make sure it cooks through.

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There you go, very easy and fast way of grilling fish. And far superior taste to all other methods I have tried. I use this method both with fresh and salted whitefish.

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Nov 25 2020

Whitefish Fishing 2: Preparing the Fish

Published by under Foods

The European whitefish (Coregonus lavaretus) is a salmonid and largely has the same bone structure as the other in the genus. Unlike brown trout and arctic char it has large scales, so it needs more preparation before cooking than the aforementioned. Removing the scales is mainly a matter of cleanliness as they tend to make an unappetising mess out of any dish.

It is helpful, but not necessary to have a board when scaling whitefish. The scaling can be done with a sharp bone like here or a dull knife. Too sharp knives can easily dig into the skin and will be annoying to work with. Scrape the fish as fresh as possible. Any dryness of the skin will make it significantly harder/impossible to scrape them. Also, scrape them before gutting, otherwise it will be next to impossible to scrape the belly portion of the skin in the belly section.

The fish is held by the head and scraped against the scales. Do this until the fish is virtually scale free.

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If you want a cleaner job, you can rinse the fish free of scales before you continue, but I often only rinse after having both scaled and gutted. Start by inserting the tip of the knife into the anus and cut up the belly up to the throat.

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The last part towards the throat is ripped apart and the gills are separated from the flesh portion of the fish.

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If I am working as speedily as possible and not saving any of the guts, then I will omit these next steps and just rip out the guts including the gills from the front, but since I am here taking care of a few things, I disconnect the anus to make for easier access.

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Next I remove the liver, taking care to pinch off the gall bladder.

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If there is sufficient quantity of roe or milt (as in this male fish) I pull those out as well.

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Sometimes there is a lot of white fat stuck to the guts. If there is I pinch that off as well. If the fish is large I might cut open the stomach and clean it (tastes like squid) and also save the heart.

Next I pull the guts out. In this particular case I removed the swim bladder first and then pulled the guts out the front. However, I often do both at the same time, pulling towards the back.

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The black portion along the spine (the kidneys) is scraped out with my thumbnail.

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Last the fish is rinsed in water. This is most easily done many fish together in a willow basket. It can now be cooked, dried or salted. If they are to be frozen, they keep better only scraped, not gutted. Short term storage in a plastic bag or threading the head onto a thin tree branch is unproblematic. Especially in cold conditions.

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This might seem like a long process and as you are learning it it might take a while. However, since I have prepared thousands of fish this way it takes me probably less than a minute in total per fish. If I don’t save any of the innards, then probably around 30 seconds.

From lakes with little parasites I often eat the innards raw. This particular lake has quite a bit of parasites so I fry them first. I discard all livers with discolouration.

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Nov 24 2020

Whitefish Fishing 1: Fishing

Published by under Catching Animals,Foods

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Late autumn is the primary time for fishing European whitefish (Coregonus lavaretus) in these parts. They used to river spawn in a big river connected to this lake, but some stupid and unnecessary decisions in regards to some hydroelectric stuff destroyed that fishing. Currently they can thus only spawn in the lake itself.

This lake could sustain a fishing of 30 tonnes whitefish a year, but I doubt more than a ton is fished every year. Despite this, the fish is of fair size and quality, however probably gradually decreasing.

The local saying is that when the snow is on the ground the fishing is the best. This year the snow is quite late, but the fish are still spawning. However, not in the sheer numbers we might get later and which we also saw last year when snow was on the ground. Water temperature is the trigger and although I don’t know the exact temperature, we generally have the best catches between 2 and 5 metres depth at this time of the year.

At other times you might need to go a lot deeper, except in a few special locations, where they appear to go shallow pretty much all year.

We set the nets from land and out. Catches are often poor closest too land and in deep water, but we always diversify a bit in case there has been a change in water temperature.

There is not much else to be said for this fishing other than that the nets are set overnight and taken up in the morning. When the fishing is prime we can get 50kg a day or more, depending on how many gill nets we use.

Side catch in this particular lake is brown trout (Salmo trutta) and arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus). They have their own special seasons, but occasionally appear in whitefish catches, very much dependent upon locality.

The catch is given away, eaten right away or salted for future use.

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May 18 2008

Talk about Wild Food! (Burdock)

Published by under Foods

Although the Greater Burdock (Arctium lappa) has a quite extensive range both in Norway and most of Europe in general, it seems absent in the area I grew up. Because of that I have never tasted this wild root before. In the upper temperate/subarctic zones, such big, edible roots are only found on a very few species. It’s easily recognised by it’s large leaves.

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The plant is biennial. I dug up two roots, one was obviously from last year and one seemed like it had grown from a seed this spring. This rather big one, held by my 3 year old daughter is probably on it’s second year. It was quite hard to dig up, dispite nice loamy soil because of a large number of rocks.

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The way I do it with such roots is that I skin off the outer layer, I know a lot of people scrape them and wash them, but I don’t think it’s worth the hassle. And with a few species, like Cow Parsley the bitter taste is found in the outer layer and removing it will make it good (but bland) with only one cooking instead of several. Whether this is also true of burdock I can not tell, since I haven’t tried anything else than removing the outer shell.

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Young roots seems quite pleasant to eat raw and has a nice texture not unlike bamboo shoots. The older root was almost like wood and I fried it in a little oil first and then cooked it in soy for a short while. This made achieve the bamboo shoot texture and it became rather good eating. I added it to some ready made pastasauce.

The plant is medicinal (blood purifying and a number of other things) and should not be eaten in excess. Pregnant women, not at all.

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