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Shore Lunch (Fresh Fish, Cooked on the Shore)

Yellowknife fish 1

A couple months ago now I went to Yellowknife and went fishing for pike. I caught a 12 pounder (estimated – it was big) and got to judge the World Shore Lunch Championships – an event where dozens of chefs and fishermen gather to cook whitefish like they would onshore – over an open fire.

shore lunch - view

It’s something we experienced before the competition, on the aforementioned fishing trip on Great Slave Lake. Our guide steered our boat toward a rocky island – they’re all rocky there, with so little in the way of soil that the spindly trees cling for dear life to the rocks they somehow sprung out from. He cleaned the three or four pike we kept right on the mossy ground cover, tossing the head, tail, spine and entrails over one shoulder for the gulls, the perfect filets directly onto the soil and moss. One of the group gathered them up into a stainless steel bowl and took them down to the water to swish them clean while he fired up a small camp stove.

shore lunch - cleaning the fishshore lunch 1

Eating outdoors is great. Cooking – using only what we’ve hauled along with us in our boat – and then eating the fish that was swimming little more than an hour ago, along with thick slabs of sourdough bread sawed right on the rock, beans from a can and a batch of birch syrup squares someone brought along still in their baking tin, is a whole new thing.

shore lunch 2

I spent much of the time plotting my way back to Yellowknife with the boys. It was an easy flight up – under two hours – and although there are many places far further north, it was a suitably northern experience, and I need to go back in winter, when the sun peeks out for less than a handful of hours a day, and the northern lights are never far.

shore lunch 3

And now, out in Tofino, we’re heading out in the boat to fish – it will be more challenging in the ocean than in the shallow shores full of pike we could watch dart past in knee-high water (we must have caught a dozen in an hour), but the part where we do what we can with what we managed to catch, cleaning and eating it in the shade and sun on the shore, and knowing that people are doing the same by rivers and lakes and oceans across Canada this summer, makes it a real shore lunch.

Yellowknife fish 1
Yellowknife fish 1

Shore Lunch Fish

  

July 27, 2016

Ingredients

fresh whitefish, freshly caught and cleaned

buttermilk

all-purpose flour

cornmeal

seasonings like paprika, thyme, garlic powder, seasoning salt, or Back Eddy's

salt and pepper

canola oil, for cooking

Directions

1Place your fish filets in a bowl or ziplock bag and cover with buttermilk. Let sit while you shake together equal amounts flour and cornmeal (for 4-6 filets, start with about 1/2 cup each) and season with your choice of seasonings, salt and pepper.

2In a heavy skillet on your camp stove or over an open fire, heat an inch or so of oil until it's hot, but not smoking. Pull each filet out of the buttermilk, let the excess drip off, and dredge in the cornmeal mixture to coat. Fry, turning with tongs, until golden brown.

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4 comments on “Shore Lunch (Fresh Fish, Cooked on the Shore)

  1. Sue D
    July 27, 2016 at 6:27 pm

    Damn – I think the concept of fresh, quality ingredients making the dish is more true for fish than for anything else. What an experience for you. This looks SO good!

    • Julie
      August 2, 2016 at 8:12 pm

      It was amazing. Would love to go back with you sometime!

  2. Anonymous
    January 24, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    You are the first person I’ve seen who has discovered the amazing crumbing ability of corn meal. I use it to make all sorts of patties, rissoles, fish fillets etc. Nice looking fish. I’ve had similar experiences living in a van in NZ; chuck in a rod in an estuary or off the rocks, 5 mins later, dinner. (New Zealand is proof in the pudding of marine reserves creating high fish populations. Astounding plentitude of all sorts of marine life.) Freshly-caught fish is a whole different world to anything store bought. By the way, I am here via your chocolate zucchini cake which has won the hearts of toddlers, teens, men and women. Regards from Australia.

    • Julie
      January 27, 2017 at 9:07 am

      Aw, you totally just made my day!

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