Captain David Bayes, owner of DeepStrike Sportfishing in Homer, Alaska cooking off the stern for an overnight fishing trip.

Beer Battered Halibut

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Bisquick
  • 1 Egg
  • 4–6 oz Beer
  • 2 Cups Panko Bread Crumbs
  • 1.5 lbs Wild Alaskan Halibut
  • Frying Oil (canola, vegetable, etc.)

Preparation

  • Thaw halibut, remove skin, and cut into 1x1 inch chunks. Thawing can be accelerated by immersing fish in warm (not hot) water. Puncture vacuum sealed packages prior to thawing.
  • Combine 1 cup Bisquick and 1 egg in medium sized bowl. Whisk in beer until batter is the consistency of thin pancake batter.
  • Dip halibut chunks in the batter, coat with Panko, then deep fry in 350 degree oil for 3 to 3.5 minutes. Test a piece before doing the whole batch. When done, the meat will turn opaque and flaky as it is pulled apart.
  • Serve with tartar sauce, or combine ketchup and ground horseradish in a bowl to create a homemade “red sauce.”

Captain David’s Unwanted Culinary Commentary

Beer is not sold in 4 ounce bottles. The type doesn’t really matter. Some say dark, some say light. Buy a six pack of your favorite. Drink 5 and a half, and save the last six ounces. If you forget to save that last half, substitute water.

For a nominal fee, the fish processing company will skin your fish before packing.

After skinning the fish, make sure you remove the brown “fatty” layer, which lies between the fillet and the skin. This brownish grey fat contains the oils that make fish taste, well, like fish.

If you don’t puncture the vac-pac bag before thawing, it will continue to press down on the fish and squeeze the juices out as it thaws.

Coating the fish in Panko is easiest with the “shake and bake” method. Fill a plastic container with Panko, add battered fish, and shake until pieces are evenly covered.

Panko is a Japanese bread crumb and is likely found in the Asian foods section of the grocery store. No one seems to really know what makes certain bread crumbs Japanese, but they exist, and there is a difference.

I’ve seen people fry beer battered fish for up to half an hour. Don’t do it. If using 1 inch chunks, then 4 minutes tops, though it is usually done in three.

Set a kitchen timer when you immerse the chunks in the oil to ensure that you don’t leave it in for too long.

A more convenient alternative to the conventional deep fryer is to add an inch of oil to an electric skillet and fry in there. You’ll have to flip the fish, but it saves a lot of oil. Turkey fryers also work well if cooking for a large group.

Batches of fish can be placed on a cookie rack or on paper towels in the oven to stay warm until ready to serve. Keep oven on lowest heat setting to avoid overcooking the fish.

This recipe is great with any white meat fish. Lingcod are more moist than halibut, and thus harder to overcook. This makes lingcod the preferred fish of many beer battering connoisseurs.

Try the homemade red sauce! The recipe is simple, yet very good. Squeeze out a 1/2 cup of ketchup and add horseradish until it’s just about to be too hot, around 2 Tbsp.

Avoid the horseradish sandwich spreads as they usually have added mayonnaise which throws things off. I look for the Beaver Brand “Extra Hot” grated horseradish.

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Grilled -or- Oven Baked Salmon

Ingredients

  • 1 Wild Alaskan Salmon Fillet (king salmon is the captain’s choice for grilling)
  • 1/3 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Minced Garlic
  • 1 Lemon

Preparation

  • Thaw and rinse salmon fillet. Make a crosscut every 4 inches along the length of the fillet, penetrating about halfway through. Do not remove the skin.
  • Heat grill to medium heat, or oven to 375 degrees.
  • Combine olive oil, lemon pepper, and minced garlic in small dish. Cut lemon into wedges and set aside.
  • Lay fillet skin side down on a piece of aluminum foil, leaving enough foil to fold and seal over the top of the fish while cooking. Brush or spoon an even coating of the olive oil mixture onto the fish.
  • Fold foil over top of fish and grill or bake until meat becomes opaque, rather than translucent, and begins to show moist “flakes.”

A fillet from a 15 pound salmon will take 20-30 minutes, depending on how hot your grill becomes. ABSOLUTELY DO NOT OVERCOOK.

After 20 minutes, check the fish every 3 minutes to test for doneness. The thinner edges along the belly and tail will cook more rapidly than the thick shoulder and may need to be removed early.

Serve with a lemon wedge.

Captain David’s Unwanted Culinary Commentary

Many like to add sliced onions and lemons to the foil packet while cooking. Making slices in the fillet helps it to heat and cook more evenly.

There is no such thing as “slow and low” when cooking fish. Don’t you dare put a piece of fine Alaskan fish in the oven for 2 hours at 325.

Learn what it looks like when fish “flakes,” and never cook it past that point.

Fish are born tender. Fish die tender. They have no tendons, no sinew, and no gristle, so cooking it for a long time will not create better table fare. It will, however, dry it out and enhance that dreaded “fishy” taste.

When folding the foil over the top of the fish, try to make an airtight seal. This allows the fish to steam itself and minimizes moisture loss.

The belly pieces contain the most oil, and since it will also generally finish cooking first, this part of the fillet will rarely survive the trip to the dinner table. “Cook’s privileges,” my mother would say.

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Halibut Tacos With Salsa Fresca

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs Wild Alaskan Halibut
  • 1 Tbsp Cumin
  • 1/2 Tbsp Lawry’s Seasoning Salt
  • 1/4 Cup Salt
  • Juice from 1 Freshly Squeezed Lime
  • 1 Onion (diced)
  • 1 Bunch Fresh Cilantro (finely chopped)
  • 1 - 15oz Can of Petite Diced Tomatoes (well-drained)
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • Taco Shells or Tortillas

Preparation

  • Combine chopped cilantro with diced onion, tomatoes, and lime juice in a medium bowl. Add salt to taste and more lime juice if necessary. Set salsa aside while preparing the rest of the meal.
  • Season fish with cumin and Lawry's, then pan fry in olive oil at medium heat until meat turns opaque and fish “flakes” (10-15 minutes). Place taco shells in oven at 375 degrees for ten minutes to crisp, or warm up your tortillas.
  • Transfer fish to serving bowl and break apart with a fork. Scoop fish into taco shells or warmed tortillas and cover with salsa.

Captain David’s Unwanted Culinary Commentary

Make sure you get cilantro and not parsley. They look quite similar and are usually right next to each other in the produce section. Parsley salsa is a wretched thing. Check that label. Check that label twice.

Salt plays an important role in this recipe, don’t skimp. The salt helps to soften the cilantro leaves and onions, and makes the lime juice “pop.” The salsa will taste like mashed tomatoes if you don’t get enough salt (and lime for that matter) in there.

This is one of the rare instances in which you can overcook the fish and still have it come out somewhat okay. Some actually prefer the fish slightly overcooked to dry it a bit. Using a lid while frying the fish helps it cook faster and makes it easier to break apart.

I know someone will write to me complaining about this salsa not being hot enough, so here it is... chopped jalapeños can be added to taste.

Rockfish are an excellent and popular substitute for halibut.

In the world of fish tacos, a hard shell tastes much finer than a soft one.

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Grilled Halibut

Ingredients

  • 1–2 lbs Wild Alaskan Halibut
  • 1 Onion (sliced)
  • 1/2 Tbsp Lemon Pepper
  • 1/2 Lemon (sliced)

Preparation

  • Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Skin halibut and lay on a large piece of aluminum foil.
  • Sprinkle on lemon pepper and cover with sliced lemon and onion. Fold aluminum foil over fish and crimp edge to make a sealed “pouch” around the fish.
  • Place pouch on grill seam-side-up, or with seam easily accessible, and cook with the grill lid on. Small pieces of fish should be checked after about ten minutes, and most will be fully cooked in 15-20 minutes.
  • The pouch does not need to be turned over at any time. Fish is done when it “flakes.”

Captain David’s Unwanted Culinary Commentary

Cooking times can vary immensely on this dish due to variances in grill temperature and the thickness of the fillet you’re preparing.

Check after ten minutes and be vigilant in checking at least every 5 minutes after that. It’s fine to open the pouch to check the fish, but re-seal it the best you can if it’s not done.

Cooking in the pouch keeps the fish moist. It is very easy to dry halibut out if it’s just thrown onto the grill. I prefer to serve with tartar sauce and lemon wedges.

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Halibut Sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 1–2 lbs Wild Alaskan Halibut
  • 1/2 Cup Tartar Sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp Lawry’s Seasoning Salt
  • 1 tsp Garlic Salt
  • 4–8 Slices American Cheese
  • 4–8 Sesame Seed Buns (toasted)
  • 1 Tomato (sliced)
  • 1/2 Onion (sliced)
  • “Bread & Butter” Flavored Pickle Slices
  • Butter

Preparation

  • Heat frying pan or electric skillet to medium-high heat. Season halibut to taste with Lawry’s seasoning and garlic salt.
  • Skin fish and cut into bun-sized portions, then fry in olive oil until fish can be flaked with a fork (around 10 minutes).
  • While fish is cooking, slice vegetables and butter both sides of buns. Toast buns in separate skillet or under broiler.
  • Add cheese to fish during the last 2 minutes of cooking (cover to expedite melting). After toasting, give buns a generous coating of tartar sauce on each side, add fish, and garnish with pickle, onion, and tomato.

Captain David’s Unwanted Culinary Commentary

Let’s cut straight to the chase here, you’re making a cheeseburger out of fish. A fishwich. Even my roommate in college had this dish under control (though barely).

These sandwiches turn out best with fresh-that-day halibut of the smallest variety you (or Mother Nature) can will you into keeping.

Medium-high heat means around 375 on an electric skillet or about a 7 out of 10 on a typical stove top. The halibut itself won’t have a whole lot of flavor when prepared this way, so sufficient tartar sauce is needed to give the sandwich some life.

The pickles wake things up as well. Don’t pass this recipe up, it’s quick and easy to make, and has been a traditional “after fishing” dish for many years.

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