Grilled Rock Fish with Crab and Corn Sauce

Tuna (or Seabass) with “Creamed” Corn and Tarragon

Rock Fish with Corn and Crab Sauce

The ocean, and the things that come from it, are typically flown to me. I have cooked all sorts of fish from all over the world. But to be able to harvest, cook and eat my own seafood (in the same day!) is an unfortunately new feeling.

I am a sagebrush dweller. I love the open canyons and the high aspen stands of Southwest Idaho. It is my ancestral home; we ran supplies to silver mines in the area and never moved very far from it. Heck, my shotgun actually road shotgun on whiskey wagon transport deliveries in Southeast Oregon.

It was explained to me that once I went tuna fishing I would never be the same. They were right; I will never look at the ocean the same way again. I have always known that it could crush a boat but I have never experienced what that feeling was like. I was humbled beyond belief. Next time I go tuna fishing I hope to actually catch one.

When we got back to our shack near Waldport, under the giant “don’t even think about boiling crab in this house” sign we enjoyed the fish as simple as I can imagine, grilled with a fresh local sweet corn sauce. I was in heaven.

Grilled Albacore Tuna – or Seabass…if you are desperate

Four 6oz rockfish fillets – the ones from your favorite catch that day

Olive Oil

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon cracked pepper


1 tablespoon fennel seeds, rough cracked in spice grinder or mortar

Heat the briquettes or the gas grill, I’m not all that picky. When HOT take the rockfish out of the fridge and put it on a plate. Season the top with cracked pepper, garlic, salt and fennel seeds. Flip over and repeat. When your beer is open and you are near the grill pour JUST a little oil onto the fish and rub it in. If you add the oil as the first step the seasoning will fall off.

Grill for about 2 minutes per side. Pull of the BBQ and let sit for 5 minutes while reminiscing about how much of a fight she put up with while out on the water. Serve with sauce below. Eat, drink, be merry.

Sweet Corn and Dungeness Crab Sauce –

2 ears of corn husked and raw

1 cup chicken stock

1 clove garlic, crushed and chopped

¼ cup whipping cream

Picked meat from one large crab

Salt and Pepper

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon

Chive, as garnish

With a knife cut the corn kernels from the cob of the corn. The sharper your knife the better.  Next turn the blade of the knife over and carefully scrape the cut side of the cob down onto the cutting board with the backside of the knife. You will see a white viscous liquid come out of the cob, I call this corn juice, and it has a ton of flavor. Save this juice in a bowl with the corn kernels for the sauce.  Next cut the corn cobs, removed of the corn kernels, in half length- wise.

In a small sauce pot add the chicken stock and the corn cobs, bring the pot to a simmer. The corn cobs will make a great tasting broth. Let simmer for 20 minutes of so. Remove the cobs and throw them away. Next add the garlic, corn kernels and juice to the simmering chicken stock.

The freshness of the corn, time of year and other factors will affect this next step. The corn will start to thicken the chicken stock. You will just have to look and see, I can’t honestly tell you how long it will take. It could be five minutes of simmering or it could be 30 seconds. But either way the corn “starch” in the fresh kernels and the corn juice will tighten up the chicken stock to an almost sauce like consistency. When the sauce it slightly thickened add the cream and season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings. Simmer for a few moments and remove from the heat. Your sauce is now ready.

Right before serving toss in the picked crab meat and fresh chopped tarragon.  Other herbs will work as well. Basil, parsley and even rosemary are all good substitute options if you do not like the licorice flavor profile of tarragon.  Season with salt and pepper. Use this sauce as the topper for fresh grilled Oregon Coast fish fillets.

Catfish Po’ Boy

Cat Fish Po' BoyJust because I’m from the Northwest catfish does not mean that I can’t make a good old fashioned Po-Boy out of them. Well, actually “old fashioned” might be the wrong choice of words. I am going to make a Northwest Style Po-Boy – rustic bread, farmstead pickles, Asian spicy cabbage slaw with blue berry vinegar. Some will call this sacrilege; I call it “regionalization”. Call this sandwich a Po- Boy or not it WILL still taste good.

I like to eat the medium sized catfish, 3-4 pounders, because they are big enough to get meat off of yet not so old I have to worry about contamination. The Po-Boy is simple, in all honesty, crispy fish on soft bread with mayo, pickles and some lettuce.

Fried Cat Fish

I have refused to buy one of those little baby deep fryers for my house over the years out of health concerns. I LOVE fried food and as a chef eat plenty of it at work. When given the opportunity at home I know I would consume even more fried goodness (bumping me a few pant sizes at the same time). To counter the “no fryer” rule I just make a more dangerous version out of a cast iron skillet. Smart? No.

The Fish

1 Pound catfish fillet, cut into 2 inch strips

1 cup milk

1 large egg

1 cup yellow corn meal

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Pinch cayenne

1 tablespoon fresh cracked black pepper

Soak the catfish in milk a few moments or up to 24 hours (some claim that this will “lessen” the mud flavor of the fish, I not exactly sure…never tested it).  When ready to fry beat egg in a small bowl until frothy. Mix cornmeal, flour, cayenne and black pepper together in a different bowl. Take milk wet fish and add them to the corn meal bowl, a few at a time. Set them on a plate in a single layer. Next add the dipped fish to the egg mix and back into the cornmeal mix, double coating the fish. Make sure to press the fish into the dry mix to get some extra adherence. Place fish back on plate. Repeat until all the fish is double dipped.

Fry the fish, for about 3-4 minutes, in 350 degree oil or until they are crispy and cooked through. Reserve for the sandwich.

The Slaw

12 oz package of cabbage and carrot mix

1/4 cup ranch dressing

1 tablespoon Blueberry (Huckleberry is better) vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon Siracha Hot Sauce

Salt and Pepper

In a small bowl combine the ranch, blueberry vinegar, honey and siracha. Next add the cabbage and carrots until the “slaw” is a wet as you like it. It might not be the whole 12 oz bag. Adjust seasoning with salt a pepper.

Bringing it Home

I like to use a good grainy hoagie roll for this sandwich but the traditional white/sourdough varieties work equally as well. Split the hoagie and toast if you like. Then add the fish and top with the slaw. Add some pickles that your newly gardening neighbor gave you and you got a grubbin’ Po-Boy.

Crappie! Love this Fish, Love it!

Fried Crappie with Orange Pineapple Salsa

I have been a pan fish freak of late. Not sure why, but I know that I am enjoying myself. I have a new recipe for the site and hope everyone enjoys. I know that I enjoyed making it! Keep the food real folks!Let’s face it; the yield on pan fish is low. I almost feel bad when I fillet a crappie or a big bluegill. You take the tough fighting little fish out of the water and then end up with barely any meat. To increase yield scrape the spine with a spoon for extra meat, on a big batch of fish this can lead to a whole extra meal for the family. It is the respectful thing to do when harvesting. I normally use my scrape for items like ceviche, tacos, pastas and salads (think tuna salad sandwich with crappie, yeah, it’s good).

YouTube has lots of really good videos on how to fillet pan fish. Watch a few and then take up the act yourself. It’s fairly easy and when you get the hang of it you can pound out the fish very quickly. I scale the fish most times but skinless fish work just fine too. If you’re like me and the catch is almost always limited in quantity than it is a good idea to get the most out of your $50 fish.

Orange and Pineapple Salsa

BLue Gill on the String

Dinner! Dinner!

1 ea large orange, cut into segments¼ pineapple, peeled



1 tablespoon Chipotle Tabasco or Cholula

Cut the top and bottom off the orange about ½ inch up. This should allow the orange to stand on one end. Set orange on a flat side and then proceed to “peel” the orange with the knife, making sure to remove a little bit of the orange flesh. The goal is to remove the white section of the orange that is bitter and located closest to the skin. When “peeled” you will notice the orange has vertical lines running down it. Slide the knife into those lines and remove the “segments”.

Dice the pineapple. Add orange segments, pineapple, salt, pepper and chipotle Tabasco to a small bowl. Toss and refrigerate until needed to top the fried crappie.

Fried Crappie

10 crappie fillets, scaled and ready to fry

4 cups canola oil


¼ cup flour

¼ cup corn starch

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper

Heat a thick pan, such as a Dutch oven, on medium until it reaches 350 degrees. A candy thermometer is handy for this. If you don’t have a candy thermometer use a wooden spoon. When inserted into properly hot enough oil it will throw off bubbles and float in the oil. Don’t let the oil smoke.

Mix the flour and the seasoning in a gallon sized zip top baggie. Wet the fish a little under the sink. Then add the fish, one at a time, to the gallon bag of flour and spices. Shake the bag like a Polaroid, evenly dispensing and coating the fish in the breading.

Remove from breading and lay flat on a lightly floured plate. Slide each fillet into the hot oil very carefully. Fry for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to a paper towel lined plate. Serve with asparagus and orange pineapple salsa.

Big Fish in a Little River

Fishing is not a spot and stalk sport for me most times. Generally I fish by tossing a line into the deep and hoping for the best. But steelheading on the Boise River, right in downtown Boise Idaho, has become a different story all together.

I would come, during my lunch break, to an access dock right on the river at Barbar Park with no expectations of actually catching any steelhead. I would make the five minute walk to the dock and watch white headed steelhead was swimming slowly in the shallows next to the dock, she was big and she was ugly. The fish was suffering from what is called Ulcerative Dermal Necrosis, basically ulcers on her head from being beaten up in the shallow river for so long. It is a common occurrence during the spawning season. As soon as I walked close to the edge I would watch her swim into the current and disappear, sometimes other smaller steelheads would swim off as well.

I would then cast and cast at the riffle and the pool above it, hoping to get a strike from a silver slime rocket. Most days I was disappointed and simply cast for practice, but not on Friday November 30th.  I snuck out with my ultra-light trout rod with 6 pound test and a copper “Big Deal” lure. I crept out on the dock and could see my ugly headed foe. She saw me and bolted, but only to the edge of the current. I could see her ulcered head in the current and cast about six feet in front of it. I slowly reeled in, right to her face, with her one good eye she struck my lure. I felt a bump but no run; but I could see my lure in her mouth. I did the only logical thing and set the hook as hard as I possibly could. Oh, how I wished I had brought a bigger fishing pole.

With my rod bent in half and no net I realized the problem that I would have. I was about four feet above the water and could not possibly land the fish I never thought I would catch anyway. I had to jump off the landing and into the rocks beside it, never mind that I was in slacks and chefs clogs.

The hum of my drag was nearly constant as I fought the big gal. I would reel her close to the bank and as soon as she spotted me she would bolt (she really did only have one good eye). I just let the fight play out for close to twenty minutes. She would run and I would retrieve her. When I decided to make my move I got her as close to the bank as I could and thrust my hand into the water, grabbing her tail and pulling her out of the water. With a primal grunt I tossed her to the bank.

I hooted and hollered and danced a little bit on the bank looking at my 30 inch nine pound slime rocket. My endorphin rush lasted long enough for me to ignore the other feeling I was having, Hunger.


While it might seem like blind luck that caught me my fish I was actually approaching the river with a little bit of expertise behind me.

Us litter river fishermen all want to be on the big rivers, the Columbia, the Snake, the Clearwater catching some lunkers. But, alas, we are not. Stuck in the Boise valley we hope and pray to land a big fish. Fortunately, Idaho Fish and Game stocks the Boise River each year with hatchery born steelhead from the Oxbow Dam. The steelhead run up to the hatchery and are loaded onto a truck and hauled to Boise. Fishermen can actually catch steelhead while ESPN broadcasts from the Smurf Turf at the Boise State Stadium (Go Broncos!).

Each year this fish dump creates a little micro climate for fishermen. Hundreds of people culminate across the four drop locations trying to land a steelhead while not driving four hours and spending hundreds of dollars.

With the small water of the Boise River tactics change a little. In stead of jigging for fish at 6 feet you jig for them at about 2 feet. Diver style plugs are out of the question. The best bet for landing an “in town” steelhead is what local fishermen Kelly Chatterton calls a BSA standing for “Big, Silver and Annoying”.

Spinners and spoons tend to dominate the fishing action in the Boise River. Specifically the Blue Fox Super Vibrax in the silver color. “Basically, it is the job of the fisherman to knock the big boys on the head with a lure and make them strike it…the strike is out of anger, not hunger” added Chatterton. Others use bait right after the fish are dumped, to limited success.

With the low levels of the water sight fishing is not uncommon. Most time the fish can be seen at the edges of holes during mid day. Not spooking the fish is the vital aspect of sight fishing on the Boise. Cast above the fish and try and get the lure as close as possible to the head of the fish hopefully inducing a strike.

In general fishing is best right after the fish are deposited. They tend to be confused and have not settled into the river, that and there are a lot more fish per mile of water. Fortunately IDF&G publish, on their website, the fish drop locations and dates. The 2012 season was cut short due to a lower than expected return to the Oxbow Dam. Roughly 1000 fish were released for us City Fishers.

How to get more meat off a Steelhead

Protein recovery becomes an issue when a person gets a big fish to shore. We all want to be as respectful as possible of the life that we have taken but many of us lack the skills to harvest all the meat in the proper way. No worries, I have a little trick that will make you feel good about your fillets event if they are not perfect.

When the fish is done being filleted most people will simple toss the bodies and be done. But many times a large amount of meat, often as much as a pound, is left on the skeleton. A simple tablespoon removes all the excess meat. Simply scrape down the side of the fishes exposed sections removing the flesh. Scrape the backbone clean of most of the meat. It is all perfectly edible but often overlooked. Pile this meat up and reserve for fish taco night, for sandwiches or pasta. No need to crumble up the perfect fillets when you have crumbled meat already.

Float Tube Bass, Hog’s in Florida

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I am a new convert to the float tube. Never have I has so much fun fretting over leaches in my life. In a matter of two hours I managed to pull in about 10 bass, most in the two pound range. One of the suckers was close to six! Those are huge fish for a cold water state. But my brain kept thinking of other things, unfortunately.

What a week will do to a guy. Less than one week from now, at about this time, I will be about as far away from home as I can be while still I the continental US. Okeechobee, FL is my destination for a hog hunt. Then up to Orlando for 6 day chef conference. Nothing says fun like being away from the family for a week in an oppressively hot climate with 100% humidity and at the beginning of hurricane season.

But this up coming hunt is driving me nuts. I have never, ever, paid someone to take me hunting. The concept is completely off the wall to me. I come from Idaho, where 70% of the land is public and hunting opportunities are endless. Compare that to the eastern states, like Texas, that are only 3% public. This “buying” my way on to land is a new idea for me.

I am also nervous because the last pig that I shot with my bow I only wounded. My dad had to come in with a follow-up shot and take the pig down after a few hundred yards. The time after that I smoke-poled two pigs at 250 yards in Texas just to get my confidence up. This time I am paying someone to help me but I don’t want to embarrass myself…with my self imposed handicap of shooting a recurve bow.

Wood arrows. No release. No sights. No range finder. The shot and all that comes from it is the same as it would have been in the 1500’s. Gulp…and I don’t have Dad around this time.

The plan is to shoot the pig as early as I can in the morning. Process the pig into manageable sections and then scoot over to the Gulf of Mexico and fish for a few hours. Or I could drive over to the Atlantic side and fish for a while. Then up to Orlando to the 2012 ACF National Convention. I’m sure I will post pics of the convention but if my social media presence dies down for a while now you know why!

Much love,