A Fat Whitefish
Wednesdays are my day off, and Henry often comes over for coffee for an hour or so before he starts work. Being self-employed, he starts when he wants to. This week he showed up with a beautiful fat whitefish for me, fresh from last night’s catch. He has a set net in the river on a slough not far from Bethel. Set nets are much like drift nets, except that they are anchored in the river and must be checked (hauled in and picked clean of fish) every one to two days. Set nets are usually placed in shallower water out of the main current of the river.
Henry’s set net has been catching lots of whitefish for the last few days, and he says they are almost all big fish. The one he brought me was certainly a beauty.
Whitefish are absolutely delicious; if possible, I like them even better than salmon. The meat is not as firm as salmon, and the flavor is more delicate. Perhaps similar to trout, but more robust. They can be baked, poached, or grilled, but my favorite is to fry them. Fried foods are not generally part of my diet, so it is a real splurge to have fried fish.
My friend Joan and her two teenage sons Michael and Luke often come over for dinner on Wednesday nights, so it seemed like just the excuse I needed for a fish fry. I filleted and skinned the big whitefish and used a pair of needle-nosed pliers to pull out the line of bones down the center. Then I cut the meat into large chunks. These were dipped in an egg wash, and then rolled in Japanese breadcrumbs (Panko is the brand I can get here). Then fried in a half inch of hot vegetable oil in my big cast iron skillet. Yummmmm! In for a penny, in for a pound; I even made homemade French fries to go with the fish, much to the delight of the two boys. Fresh cole slaw added a small note of health to this gallbladder-challenging dinner, but was probably smothered by the ice cream we had for dessert. I could feel my arteries clogging, but it was soooo good.
Sorry, no photos of the final product, which was quite pretty; the boys were so hungry they just couldn’t wait for a photo-op. Maybe next time.
Labels: Tundra Life