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Fish cooked over an open fire

Probably the most ancient method for preparing fresh caught fish would be to roast the fish
over an open fire using nothing but fire and a stick. In the modern world we still cook
fish over an open fire but it involves the use of grills, briquettes or propane, spatulas,
and all kinds of other gadgets that we have come to rely on for the preparation of our food.
There are several good reasons to master the art of cooking over an open fire without the use
of any “modern” day tools.
In a survival/disaster situation you may not have anything available to you other than what
Mother Nature has provided.
You will never eat any fish as fresh as when you catch it and cook it minutes after the catch.
Without the use of spices and butter or oil, you can taste the fish itself, naked of outside flavors.
Cooking over an open fire drums up some deep embedded caveman like instinctual happiness.

This article doesn’t deal with the actual process of catching the fish itself. There is a
ton of info available on the web if you need help in this area. This article deals with the
process of prepping and cooking the fish using nothing but the items available to you in your
general area. Two modern items used for the cleaning of the fish and the starting of the fire
were a lighter and a pocket knife. These are items you should always carry with you in nature anyhow.
After catching the fish use your knife to make a slit up the belly of the fish to just under
the gill area and use your fingers to clean out any entrails. Leave the head and tail intact
as you will need these for support on your stick. Don’t worry about the scales either.
Clean the fish off in the water and place it somewhere that won’t get the insides dirty or sandy.

Use what you can to start a small fire. This is easy at a beach where there is plenty of
driftwood available. This particular article features a fire pit made out of an old metal
tire rim found half buried in the sand. You could use rocks or even small logs to build a
fire pit that is protected from winds. Your fire should be no smaller than the fish you intend
on cooking. Use small shavings of wood and dry grass (tinder) to get a small fire going.
A lighter comes in handy here; however there are dozens of ways to ignite tinder for starting fires.
After you get your tinder lit begin adding progressively larger sticks until you have a fire
big enough to burn down into a nice bed of coals.

Now you need to gather your roasting stick and a few forked sticks for support.
The roasting stick needs to be sturdy enough to support the weight of the fish.
It should also be at least three feet long. A stick off of a growing tree will not burn
as easily as a dry stick. Willows are often found growing near water and make excellent
roasting sticks. You will also need to forked sticks to support the fish on the stick.
The roasting stick is inserted through the mouth of the fish and gets stuck into the tail
meat just below the backbone.

Once the flames have died back a bit and you have a nice set of coals you are ready to begin
cooking the fish. Hold your hand over the coals to test for temperature. If you can only
hold your hand over the coals for about 5 seconds or less you have the right temperature
for cooking. Suspend your fish on a stick over the coals with the scales towards the heat.
Leave it in this position for 5-10 minutes or until you notice the skin becoming charred or crispy.
Then roll the stick so that the open side of the fish is pointed down towards the heat.
This side takes less time to cook. A note on cooking fish: many fish have microscopic worms
in their flesh and other goodies so it’s important to cook the fish thoroughly.

When the fish is fully cooked the skin should peel off easily and the backbone will separate
from the meat. Lay the cooked fish on a clean rock remove the stick. Pull the backbone out
and pick the meat out with your fingers.

Be sure to completely extinguish your fire when you are done using it.
The remaining fish parts should be buried or returned to the water that you caught it in.
Some pets can become sick from eating fish remnants.

Please observe all local fishing and fire regulations when performing this task.

Hope you enjoy this traditional cooking method.

The fish featured in this article is a Rock Greenling caught legally on the shore of the Pacific using anchovies as bait.

As always, feel free to e-mail any
questions or comments you may have. hactick@newworldseedcompany.com


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