I had read a book a while back called Fishing For Buffalo
, it was all about fishing and eating some of the less desirable varieties of fish. That is something I have been very interested in because I love catching a large variety of fish and also get a lot of joy in cooking and eating things that most people wouldn't. See my post about bowfishing for Carp
. I am also a big fan of bow fishing but I hate waste so I have to eat what ever I get. That said not all fish make it easy to eat them.
I grew up on Leech lake and every spring just after the ice went out the suckers would come up to the shoreline and spawn. My uncle would take me down to the shore with a five gallon bucket and dip net and net up a bunch of suckers. He would then chop the heads off and gut them then take them down the road to Mrs. Bundy who would then smoke them and give them back. That was probably my first experience with eating rough fish and I remember loving those suckers. The meat was sweet and smoky and had a nice firm texture. I really wish Mrs. Bundy were around today to share here secret.
I have bee trying my hand at smoking some of the rough fish I catch and have had some success with Sheepshead and carp. Last year I was down fishing the Mississippi River with my friend Eric and he caught this redhorse sucker. He was going to throw it back but I talked him into keeping it so I could try smoking it. I had read that the redhorse is a very good eating fish because they need to live in water that has a higher oxygen content. I figure the worst case was I smoked another fish and improved my technique. Best case it might be really good.
What I ended up with was something in between. The fish wasn't bad but it did have sort of a grassy flavor to it that wasn't overwhelming but was noticeable. the other thing the redhorse has that I was unprepared for was a shit ton of bones. I knew they were a bony fish but wasn't aware they were full of some of the craziest bones I had ever seen. Not only the Y bones but there were these odd little fan shaped bones that seemed to be all through out the meat.
Once I finished picking through all the bones I was left with about 8 ounces of decent looking meat. I decided to use it in a fish melt recipe I had seen Mario Batali make
. As a smoked fish melt it was really good but you could still pick up some of that grassiness. I really want to try these melts with smoked salmon, I think they would be out of this world. I might have to book a trip over to Lake Michigan this summer.