Gone Fishin’… but don’t forget your pan and foil

Today, our friend Orrin Knutson pinch-hits for me with an article about preparing trout in a survival event. Take it away, Orrin.


Thanks, Frank. Recently, a couple of our new survival followers asked about our favorite ways of preparing trout during a survival event, as well as recreationally.

The same techniques as what I provide below also work with other small fish, such as warm water breeds including catfish, crappie, perch, bass, etc. Most of them need to be “scaled” first, whereas trout do not.

Pan or Improvised Foil Pan Frying

Needless to say, when you have the gear and some oil, pan-frying trout (or other smaller fish) is the quickest, easiest and always most delicious way to do it.

  1. In survival mode, you can “dry fry” your fish in a hard pan or an improvised pan made from a forked stick and aluminum foil. Just make sure to only cook over low heat when you have no oil.
  2. When recreating and you have plenty of supplies, before frying in a pan, coat the fish with egg, dredge in dry cornmeal, flour or pancake mix, and a mixture of your favorite assorted seasonings, before frying. 
  3. Since most of a fish’s fat is held in the head (protecting and heating the brain), we suggest you don’t cut it off until fully cooked.

Foil Wrap Baking

When working over an open bed of coals (or your backyard BBQ), this is a fantastic way to cook trout or any other fish.

  1. Clean, gut and if needed, scale your catch.
  2. Wash and pat dry the fish before cooking.
  3. Place a couple of teaspoons of butter inside the fish’s gut cavity.
  4. When available, roll in an egg/milk wash.
  5. Sprinkle inside and out with your favorite dry seasonings, such as Italian, taco, Greek, etc.
  6. I like stuffing fish with wild greens and herbs. When available, you can stuff with your favorite domestic veggies.
  7. Add a splash of lemon or orange juice for a subtle tartness.
  8. Use grape, raspberry, cranberry, peach, apricot, papaya or other favorite fruit juice for sweetness.
  9. Tightly wrap the fish in heavy-duty aluminum foil.
  10. Place the package on a hot bed of coals or on a grill rack a foot or more above a low fire or bed of coals, on your BBQ, or even in your home kitchen oven.
  11. Depending on the size of your fish, cook five to 10 minutes on one side, then flip the package, cooking for the same time on the other side.

Poached Fish

You can poach fish using any kind of shallow pan or deep pot using an inch or two of water. Just make sure you don’t allow the water to do more than slow simmer for about five minutes per small fish.

Fish Soup

Once your water begins to rapidly boil, you might as well accept that you are making fish soup. So, add more water, some rice or noodles, assorted seasonings, and a couple of handfuls of domestic or wild veggies.

Steamed Fish

When you are in deep wet woods, tundra or urban areas where there is heavy moss growing on the ground, on trees or even on building roofs, one of the easiest ways to cook fish is to steam it.

Moss-Steaming Trout

  1. Build a healthy campfire and let it burn down a bit.
  2. Cut two large pads of thick wet moss or stack several thin layers until each pad is at least six inches thick. The moss pads need to be large enough to completely cover your fish.
  3. Make sure the layers are very wet. You can slowly add more water poured over the top layer when needed to keep the steam rolling off.
  4. Spread one moss pad layer over your burning fire. Lay your food on top and cover with the second moss pad layer.
  5. Your fire will likely begin producing lots of white smoke and steam, but that is what you want to happen.
  6. Once the steam stops rolling the first time, lift the top moss pad and carefully check your product with a fork for doneness.
  7. When needed, you can re-cover the food and sprinkle the moss with more water, until the steam starts to roll again.
  8. Cook your fish a little longer, checking every 10 minutes or so.
  9. Keep in mind that red meats take a lot longer than fish or reptiles to steam cook. You can estimate at a rate of 30 minutes per pound of meat.

Now, get out there and hang a sign on your door that says, “GONE FISHIN’.”

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