Friday, March 15, 2013

Hunter Gatherer

Years ago I used to do quite a bit of stream fishing. I couldn't wait for the weekends to head to the mountains. I'd have all my gear packed and ready to go when Friday afternoon arrived. I'd head out as fast as I could safely drive to the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. I'd have my salmon row bait in my tackle box and my graphite pole packed in it's fiberglass case. I had a pup tent and sleeping bag and a foam roll. The foam roll was placed under the sleeping bag in case of lumpy ground underneath. There's nothing worse than feeling an errant rock poking your back in the middle of the night..

What brought on this bit of nostalgia was that fresh Florida catfish is available at Shelley's Seafood Market this week. Many folks think a catfish, being a bottom feeder, is a trash fish and wouldn't think of eating them. But anyone who's caught, cleaned, and eaten fresh wild catfish knows better. Seeing catfish in the case brought back memories of catching catfish during spawning season at Lake Davis back in the late 70s and 80s. Some of my best fishing memories are from fishing there year after year. Then there was the catfish we had when we lived in Arkansas, breaded in cornmeal and deep fried in very hot oil. Oh boy now I know just how I'll make the catfish this week.

I beat up a couple of eggs in a shallow dish and poured a generous amount of cornmeal on a plate. I dipped the catfish fillet in the beaten egg coating both sides and let the excess drain off.

Next I dipped the catfish fillet in the cornmeal making sure to coat all parts of the catfish. Some folks double dip their catfish and I have done that in the past but this time I just single dipped the fillets. Double dipping means you dip the fillet in the egg and then cornmeal and then you dip the fillet in the egg and cornmeal again. Double dipping gives a real thick coating of cornmeal around the fillet.

After coating the fillet in cornmeal, let the fillet rest so the cornmeal has a chance to dry and really adhere to the catfish fillet. I hate to waste so much oil deep frying so I pan fried my fillets. Heat up some oil in a saucepan till it's good and hot. Gingerly place each fillet in the hot oil and when brown on one side, turn over and brown the other side. If the fillets are thick, after you turn them over, you can turn the heat down just a bit and cover them to cook through. A fork easily inserted in the thickest part of the fillet means they are cooked through. Drain the fried catfish well on a paper towel and serve with hush puppies and coleslaw.

I long to commune with nature again; I have a hankering to be out fishing in the wilds. Perhaps this longing comes from the challenge and thrill of catching my own fish. Perhaps it's an unconscious feeling of wanting to honor the bounty the earth provides for my sustenance. Perhaps it's the hunter gatherer in me that makes me recall my fishing days and wish I was out fishing right now. For the time being I'll honor earth's bounty by sharing my thoughts and recipes. I'll share the wood fish sculpture in the first photo; it hangs on my dining room wall. It was made by a local artist who neglected to sign his name. But he honors earth's bounty and stays in touch with his humanness,  his inner hunter gatherer nature, through his art. Thanks for reading and for all your comments.

11 comments:

  1. That sounds like heaven. Some communing with nature and some very, very fresh food. Life is good.

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  2. Delicious sounding...even if I haven't had breakfast yet! Kuddos to you to get out there and be part of inature!

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  3. My mom always fried fish in cornmeal. I didn't like it because it was gritty. When I grew older and had battered fish, I grew to like it.

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  4. fried fish and hush puppies - YUM!

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  5. I love the idea of frying breaded catfish. Sounds delicious. When I was a kid, my dad would often spend the weekend fishing at the beach. Sometimes, he caught something large enough to photograph, but usually he came home empty handed.

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  6. I was never a fish eater but my brother would hunt you down for fried catfish.

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  7. I love the way you honour earth's bounty, in your recipes and in your organic pottery. Such a treat for me, always.

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  8. Hi Lori, thanks, yes I need to get out to the country and do some camping real soon.

    Hi Barbara, thanks, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

    Hi Ms. Sparrow, thanks, I think there are various grades of cornmeal and some is finer than others.

    Hi Dennis, thanks, anytime you arrive. Ha.

    Hi Michele, thanks, hush puppies with jalapenos. Ha.

    Hi Gigi, thanks, it's not about catching the fish but being out there enjoying the fresh air I think.

    Hi Patti, thanks, of fresh fish is so good, but anything fresh is good isn't it?

    Hi Elephant's Child, thanks, oh sometimes I need to remind myself of all that I have and have had that is good in my life.

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  9. Wow, I am learning all sorts of recipes in your blog! I didn't know that catfish is palatable even though Japanese eat pretty much anything in water! : D

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I love suggestions, questions, critiques, thanks for your comment