Many sportsmen who fish and hunt do not like the taste of wild game or fish. If that describes you, you are missing half the enjoyment of the sport. As grandma used to say: The proof is in the eating.
I recall many wonderful days our country kitchen would emit the most delightful odors after wild game or fish was brought to the back porch. The men did all the cleaning and dressing of game and fish, while the kitchen was off limits. At a young age you learned how to make the most of your outdoor pursuits with as little waste as possible. And the meals were indescribable. Much of that is lost in today's disposable society.
Along the waters of the Cumberland River, the Tennessee mountain ranges, Virginia fields and North Carolina shores, my youth focused on the outdoors. Being a Georgia native, the woods and waters was as natural to me as was a Saturday morning matinee to the more urbanized.
One reason wild game and fish are not enjoyed by all could be because it is not prepared correctly.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Island Packet
There are many self-proclaimed outdoor cooks, but few who follow the product from start to finish. There is a bond between the hunt and the pan that only the devoted and most skilled can appreciate.
As an example: A fish such as bass has a lot of fatty tissue which, left intact, can impart a distinct flavor many find offensive. Putting a tasty meal of fresh bass on the dinner table requires preparation, and to get the true flavor of such a spectacular gamefish you have to fillet your catch.
Once that is complete, discard the skin and cut away the rib section. Place your fillets in cold water and look for a color difference in the meat. Fatty tissue will show as pale thick patches where the dorsal, anal and caudal fins were attached. Simply pull this fatty tissue away from the fillet and you are left with a soft opaque portion of pure white meat.
To add to the taste, you can soak your fillets in milk overnight, which will remove any hint of fishy taste and will satisfy even the most finicky eaters.
I have never developed a prejudice against eating any gamefish or trying new and different slants to wild game meals. What I find offensive is the preconceived notion that because a person finds one cook to be lacking culinary skills that meals prepared by another more skilled will taste the same.
Tackle Tip: Grilling
This is my one exception to removing the skin from fillets. Line your grill with foil and punch holes to allow the smoke to circulate. Blend a stick of butter and Worcestershire sauce, then coat the fillets. Turn often, basting on each turn. The skin will separate, indicating your fish is ready to plate and enjoy. Usually this will take about a half hour at most.
During my annual physical, the doctor stated I appeared to be in better shape.
"How did you make such an improvement since our last visit," he asked.
I explained, "Well, Doc, when I retired the wife and I made a pact -- whenever she got mad with me she would go to the kitchen and bake something healthy, while I would find something to do away from the house."
"That's commendable," he said, "but how does it account for your improvement since your last visit?"
"Well, Doc, I have been eating a lot healthier and I seem to be spending a great deal of time outdoors."