IT’S A PITY that so many Canadians are more enthusiastic about catching fish than cooking them. One reason, of course, is that wives conditioned by the pre-cleaned, pre-portioned and even pre-cooked supermarket product tend to recoil from the grim reality of dead, scaly, glassy-eyed fish proudly brought home by husbands. Men, for their part, a-e apt to lose interest after the glamorous part of angling — the strike, the struggle, the landing, the holding-upfor-friends-to-admire-and-envy.
Yet connoisseurs agree there’s no better eating than the fresh - caught denizens of Canada’s lakes, streams and estuaries. Take the striped bass. Elsewhere in this section Robert Turnbull, one of the country’s most knowledgeable outdoorsmen, describes the striped bass as an undeservedly neglected fish. Undeserved indeed — considering that the great French chefs who run New York's famous restaurants have unanimously selected the striped bass as the nearest approach to Europe’s gourmet fish. Flere’s how to stuff and bake a striped bass.
Scale and clean a whole four-pound bass. Stuff cavity loosely with your favorite dressing, close with string laced over toothpicks. Make four gashes just through skin on both sides, lay on oiled unglazed paper in shallow baking pan, brush with butter mixed with equal quantity of hot water, baste three or four times while it cooks in a 400degree oven for forty minutes or until flesh flakes easily.
The fresh-water black bass, esteemed as a fighter, too often is downgraded as a food. But not by people who have eaten it hot off a summer-cottage patio barbecue grill, as in this recipe from the new Chatelaine Cookbook:
Split large bass (three pounds or more) lengthwise through the backbone (leave smaller fish whole). Dry thoroughly then brush with salad oil, sprinkle with dry bread crumbs, brush grill with fat and place fish, skin side down, over fire. Brush exposed surface of fish with lemon basting sauce (made by adding one or two tablespoons lemon juice, one teaspoon each curry powder and mixed herbs to half a cup French dressing). Barbecue for two minutes, • hen turn carefully and brush again with sauce. Continue turning and basting until fish flakes easily.
The pike, highly esteemed in Europe, is probably the most scorned of Canada s game fishes. Game wardens tell melancholy tales of anglers catching
pike, hitting them over the head, and throwing them back. Yet a pike taken in cold water, especially one of four to six pounds, is gourmet food. Try this recipe for pike chowder from Northwoods Cookery (Algonquin Publications, Clarkson, Ont.).
Fillet a small pike to yield two pounds of white boneless meat — filleting is easy. Just cut with a sharp knife from back of the head along the backbone toward the tail. Then turn the loose flank of flesh and cut close to skin with a slight sawing motion toward the head and trim off bones of rib cage.
Simmer two pounds pike fillets in three cups salted water for ten minutes. Meanwhile in three tablespoons oil or butter cook two medium, chopped onions and one cup chopped celery until tender. Add two cups milk, a pinch of thyme or sage, salt and pepper to taste, three cups diced potatoes and one cup diced carrots. When fish is done, add the water in which it was simmered to the vegetable-milk mixture. Cook for another fifteen or twenty minutes, or until potatoes and carrots are tender. Flake pike in good-sized pieces into the liquid, serve piping hot with crackers.
Pickerel, also known as the walleye and in Quebec as dore, is the least aggressive of Canada’s game fish. But next to the trout and salmon family (and in the opinion of many, ahead of it) it is the most highly regarded for its edibility among Canada’s freshwater fish. The following recipe, also from Northwoods Cookery, features an unusual ingredient: beer.
Cut three pounds of pickerel fillets or steaks into serving pieces. Brown two chopped onions lightly in four tablespoons butter or fat, then stir in two tablespoons flour and cook about three minutes. Add about half a pint of dark beer, two tablespoons brown sugar, a pinch each of ground cloves and black pepper and a teaspoon of Soy or Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a rolling boil and cook, stirring frequently, until sauce is like thin cream. Add fish pieces and cook gently until fish is fork tender. Add one tablespoon vinegar and cook two minutes longer. Remove fish and serve strained sauce separately.
A conversation - piece method of "cooking” fish involves, not heat, but lemon or lime juice. Slice any nonoily fish into thin pieces. Pour over lime or lemon juice to cover. Refrigerate, drain and serve as appetizers. +
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