Good Eats: Holiday Recipes - The Fisherman

Good Eats: Holiday Recipes

2017 12 Holiday Recipes Main

From the Feast of the Seven Fishes (Italy), Wigilia (Poland), Revellion (France), Julbord (Sweden), to the Festival of Lights, we as avid fishermen have the unique opportunity of providing a good piece of many of these meals ourselves during the holiday season. So if you’re looking to use up that vacuum-sealed fish in your freezer, or if you are lucky enough to get a few fresh fillets this month, here are several pallet-pleasing treats from us at The Fisherman.


Smoked Bluefish

I’ve heard a lot of bluefish recipes over the years from soaking in mayonnaise before grilling to marinating on a cedar plank overnight and then throwing away the fish to eat the piece of wood, but for me there is simply no better bluefish preparation than smoking it! I will warn you, however, that if you purchase a smoker for the purpose of smoking bluefish in it then your bluefish catch rate will drop off to almost-zero. I speak from experience here, so heed my warning. That said, if you take the plunge and manage to somehow still land a few blues, the results are well worth it. There are many ways to smoke fish, but this is what I have found works well for me.

2017 12 Holiday Recipes Smoked Bluefish

1 gallon water
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 whole garlic, roughly chopped
1 large onion, thick sliced
1/2 gallon pineapple juice
Cajun seasoning (optional)

Begin by mixing all of the ingredients (except for the bluefish) in a large bowl until the sugar and salt are dissolved—this is your brine. Place the fillets into the brine and let them soak for several hours. I usually do this first thing in the morning and remove in the evening, but allow for at least a six-hour soak. Remove the fillets from the brine, wash with cold water and pat them dry. Place the fillets on a cookie sheet and leave them in the refrigerator for several hours. With my above noted brine timing, I leave them in the fridge overnight. This process forms what is known as a pellicle and is important in the process. Prepare your smoker (I use an electric smoker for ease of use.) and set it to 225 degrees. Choice of wood is up to you; I use apple as it is mild enough not to be overpowering. Be careful not to add too much wood, but be sure to add enough to get a good smoke going. This is one of the more difficult parts of the process for a novice smoker such as myself, but I quickly found out that slightly too little wood is far better than too much. Plan to smoke the fillets for at least 2 hours for thinner fillets; thicker fillets may take another 1 to 3 hours. Keep an eye on the fillets until they look done as over-smoking can ruin an otherwise good batch of fish.

Once the fish is done smoking, set it aside to cool. I prefer my smoked fish at room temperature but you can refrigerate it. It can then be eaten as-is or chopped up and added to sour cream, horseradish and garlic for an excellent dip.


Hutch Sr.’s Striper Dip

What’s become quite the culinary tradition around Hutchinson family parties between Thanksgiving and Christmas according to our New Jersey editor is his father’s striped bass dip. “While part of the tradition with this rather easy to make appetizer is hitting the striper grounds with dad in the morning before reuniting with the siblings that evening, dad’s striper dip recipe also works very well with bass fillets that have been in the freezer for a couple of months,” added Hutch, Jr.

2017 12 Holiday Recipes Hutchstriper Dip

1 pound striped bass fillet
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup chopped onion
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3 teaspoons lemon juice
paprika (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley sprigs (optional)
3/4 teaspoon salt

Poach the fish gently in simmering water until fully cooked. It should flake easily and be uniformly white throughout. Cool immediately. In a food processor, combine the fish, celery, and onion and process until the consistency for a dip. Put in a bowl, add all other ingredients except paprika and parsley sprigs and combine well. Taste and adjust seasonings. Refrigerate until well chilled. Use the paprika and parsley springs as a garnish if desired. Serve with your choice of crackers. Any that is leftover can be refrigerated and used the next day. It will taste even better (It’s not too bad on a bagel either!)


Fish Wrapped in Bacon

This is a take-off of scallops wrapped in bacon and more suitable to my pallet as I am not a fan of scallops. It works great as an appetizer or main course.

2017 12 Holiday Recipes Fish Wrapped Bacon

2 pounds fish
2 pounds bacon
Tin foil
Cooking spray
Skewers or tooth picks
3 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1⁄3 cup chicken broth

Cut the fish into small, bite-size pieces. Cut each slice of bacon in half. Assemble by wrapping a slice of bacon around a piece of fish and then either put a single wrap on a toothpick if serving as appetizer or place several on a skewer if serving as a meal. Once all of the fish and bacon have been assembled you can either cook on the grill (use a piece of tin foil or grill basket on the grates), or they can be broiled in the oven. In either case keep an eye on the bacon to prevent burning, and be sure to flip the skewers of toothpicks at least once to evenly cook both sides. It usually takes about 2 to 3 minutes per side regardless of cooking method. While the fish is cooking, melt the butter in a sauce pan and add the garlic; sauté for 1 minute. Add the chicken broth, heat to a boil and set aside. Once the scallops are cooked transfer them to a serving platter, pour the broth over them and serve.


“Not Lobster” Rolls

I first tried this recipe a few years ago while out on Block Island for several days. I ate more striped bass in that short fishing trip than I do in most seasons, and it was all due to this recipe. It is extremely simple, and when you drizzle melted butter over the fish and serve it in a toasted, buttered New England Style hot dog roll, you will swear that you’re eating a lobster roll!

Striped bass fillets
Old Bay Seasoning
Hot Dog Rolls

Poach the striped bass in a mixture of 1 cup of sugar to every 4 cups of water. Once thoroughly cooked, removed the fish and break it into small, bite-sized pieces and set it aside. Fry the hot dog rolls in butter until each side is golden brown. Meanwhile, melt several sticks of butter in a sauce pan. Assemble the sandwiches by filling each roll with fish, drizzle some melted butter over the top and lightly sprinkle with Old Bay Seasoning.


Cheesy Fish Cakes

This originally appeared in a 1990s issue of The Fisherman, and I modified it slightly to my liking. It works with striped bass, cod or any other flakey white fish that you might have available.

2017 12 Holiday Recipes Fish Cakes

2 pounds of fillets
3 rounded tbsp. mayonnaise
1-1/2 rounded tbsp. Dijon mustard
3 eggs
1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1 box cheese crackers
1 small onion
1 pepper (red or yellow)
6-9 mushrooms
11oz can corn
Olive oil
Old Bay seasoning
Red pepper flakes
Salt & pepper

Begin by chopping the onions, peppers, corn, and mushrooms. You can also drop them briefly into a food processor for smoother cakes. Toss some olive oil into a cast iron pan and sauté this mixture until soft. While the vegetable mixture is cooking, cut the striper into small cubes and steam or poach it for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine the eggs, mayonnaise, mustard, and seasonings. Once the vegetables are tender, add them to the egg mixture and mix well. Break up the cooked fillets and add them into the same bowl, mixing by hand. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs into the bowl and continue mixing until evenly distributed. Take handfuls of the cheese crackers and crush them in your hands over the bowl and fold the mixture. Keep adding the crushed crackers until the mixture reaches a consistency that allows it to be formed into balls. Heat some olive oil in a cast iron pan and place golf ball sized-scoops in the pan, flattening them into discs. Cook on each side until browned. They can be served as-is with a little remoulade sauce or on a roll as a sandwich. They are just as good if not better when reheated the next day.




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