Friday, December 23, 2011

Snotty Fish and Green Grouse

I'm finally taking some time off. Yippeee!!!!!
The girls and I spent last Sunday with our friends Moe and Bailey on Airport Lake.
As mentioned before, the sun has said good-bye for the year. However a few fingers of sunlight made it above the horizon. This is about as bright as it gets around here this time of year:
Airport Lake
It's was lovely and relatively quiet.  There hasn't been much snow yet, making for easy walking across the lake to pick up another canine friend, Allie.
After a good hike around, we retired to Moe's cozy cabin to put our feet up by the fire and enjoy a nip of scotch (or two).
Cozy fire and drinky-drinks :)

Allie and Moe

Loulou, Bailey, Lyra demonstrate the dog nap techniques

Loulou and Lyra
While we were all enjoying the cozy cabin, our friends Juan, Jake and Bill were out ice fishing for the day.
I had foolishly said that I would cook up the fish if they actually caught any. Jake had his line in for seconds when he caught his first bite!  Well, they caught a good number of inconnu (or coney as folks call it up here) and even a couple of much coveted losh (burbot).

The next night, I made good on my word and cooked up a coney (Stenodus leucichthys) over at Moe's.

Losh and Coney
The fish were still frozen when I got to them because somebody left them outside until that afternoon.  I won't name names but somebody owes me a big one.

I had the unenviable task of thawing cleaning, degutting and prepping this monster.
If you haven't ever had the pleasure of cleaning a coney, it's one slimey beast. No amount of rinsing seems to be able to deslime it. Just roll up your sleeves and plan to take a good, long shower afterwards. I had to give it a warm water bath to thaw it a bit and the sink was soon filled with fish slime water. EWWWWWWWW! It's like a someone wrung out a whole kindergarten class of snot-nose kids into the sink.

Normally, I like to keep the head and tails on my fish but this was so big that I wouldn't have been able to fit it in Moe's oven if I didn't decapitate it.
After degutting and cleaning, I stuffed it with one thinly sliced onion, lemon, a bunch of parsley and liberally seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Stuffed coney

Proud fisherman

Coney with Chimichurri

I roasted it at 425F for and 60 minutes wrapped in foil. I estimated 10 minutes of cooking for each inch plus another 20 minutes for the fact it was still kinda frozen. I wasn't worried about it drying out. Coney is a fairly oily fish and by roasting it wrapped in foil there's little danger of it drying out.
The flesh is nice and firm for a freshwater fish. It is one of the more mild-flavoured fish around here.

Coney/Inconnu have been a staple of the local aboriginal populations here traditionally.  It's not only a main food source for the people but also their dog teams. Much of this fish is enjoyed dried or smoked, even today.  The oiliness makes it good candidate for these preservation techniques. If you are going to roast it indoors, be prepared to live in a house that smells like neglected aquarium. You've been warned.
We had a bunch of friends over to enjoy the fish. Even with a table full of eaters, we only managed to finish half the coney. That was a big fish!

I served the fish with a homemade chimichurri (unrecipe below). This is my go-to sauce for the week. It's a Argentinian sauce that is used mainly for bbq meats. However, I use it for everything. It's great as a marinade and dressing. A dollop on roasted veggies is yummy. I even like it in scrambled eggs. This has caused my Latino friends to give me funny looks but I heck, I don't give them crap for putting soy sauce on a perfectly good bowl of steamed rice so they can keep their funny looks to themselves!

There are variations all over South America and each region will boast that their is the best. It's culinary chauvanism at it's best. I enjoy it all!

A few days later, I served it with some local grouse. Even wonder whatever happened to these poor buggers from my '6 grouse, 5 shots' entry?
I marinaded some of the grouse breasts in a couple spoonfuls of chimchurri sauce for a few days and then seared them up.

I served them with a healthy dollop of chimichurri sauce. The fresh garlicy sauce complimented the earthy grouse meat very well. I served it with a side of brussel sprouts, sugar snap peas cooked up with bacon. Yum nom nom nom.

Today, I've gotta brine the turkey for X'mas and get some of the baking out of the way. Oh yeah and wrap the gifts and clean the house.

Aren't I supposed to be taking time off??!?!

Chimichurri Sauce Unrecipe

It's basically a herb, oil and acid sauce, much like a pesto (don't tell the Latinos I called it a pesto.)

Choose a couple bunches of fresh herbs (you can use parsley on its own):

Choose your acid:
sherry vinegar
red wine vinegar
white wine vinegar
lime juice
lemon juice
You can use one or combinations of the above to make about 1/2 cup in total.

Rest of the ingredients:
5-8 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup of olive oil

Other additions (optional)
dried oregano
ground cumin
hot pepper flakes
hot sauce
diced onion
tomatoes and peppers (will give you a red version)

Toss everything into container and blend with a hand blender.
You can also do this in a food processor.
You don't want it to be completely pureed. Just blended and chunky.

Taste and adjust seasoning. Some folks like theirs more acidic, other more garlicy. It's your chimichurri sauce, you can add sugar plum fairies for all I care.

I let mine sit for a few days in the fridge for the flavours to meld. Serve with whatever the hell you want.

Happy Eating!

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