Backcountry Bush Bass

by ahanagata

  Here’s a quick and easy recipe for just about any freshwater fish you might catch.  I use some ingredients that I foraged and some that I carry in the pack.  I didn’t use anything I wouldn’t have on hand in a backpacking situation. You could add some ingredients to it if you’re at home, car camping or simply have more available on the trail you’re on.  Amount of time going from live squirmy fish to dinner plate will vary wildly depending on your cook setup and personal skill.  I would say, river to plate this would take me about 30-40 minutes to prepare.  Cut the prep time in half if you have a buddy to help.

  Today, I’ll be using fillets.  If you don’t know how to fillet a fish you can learn how here.  In addition to a trusty sharp knife, you’ll need Tin foil.  And it should be 2-4 inches longer than double the length of the fish.  If you’re in the bush, tin foil can make cooking much easier, it folds small and is light as all get out.  I included some foraged food, which you can learn about that here.  For this recipe I used the following ingredients:

  • Salt and Pepper to taste

  • Sriracha  to taste (I like about 1 tsp, skip it if you don’t like spicy)

  • Original Mrs. Dash sprinkled about (or your own general spice blend sans salt)

  • 2 cloves of garlic (I love garlic, and a bulb in your pack will do well with pre-cooked dehydrated camp food as well)

  That’s about all the spices, or condiments I’ll usually take backpacking.  Though, I sometimes have some soy sauce packets, Lawry’s, garlic salt or curry powder.  Below are the foraged ingredients.

  • About an 1/8 cup of nightshade berries

  • half a cup of cleaned nopales (cut into ½ inch squares)

  • 1 tsp of wild mustard seed

  • 1 tsp of wild chia seed

  • 1-2 (depending on size) leaves of California Bay


You bass should now look something like this, ready to be cooked!

  Method: You’re going to take your tin foil and fold it in half, make a crease and reopen it. Lay the fillets side by side in the middle on one side of said crease.  Next apply evenly all your dry spices, the salt and pepper, Mrs. Dash, and wild mustard seeds.  Next smash your garlic with a clean rock or crush it with the flat of your blade.  Now, tear it into pieces and lay it on the fish as evenly spaced as you can.  Top that off with your nopales and nightshade berries, again spreading them as evenly as you can.  Then tear your bay into a few pieces and distribute them the length of the fish.  Add your desired amount of sriracha and add about two tablespoons of clean water near the base of the fish so you’re not washing seasoning off.  If you’re at home, feel free to drizzle it with some olive oil and splash it with a little mirin, wine or fish sauce instead of water.  Fold the foil over so that the corners line up and crimp or fold them together.  You want some space in the foil too, so that some air builds and steams in there, so don’t let the foil get smashed flat onto the fish.

  If you’re backpacking; Boil water in a pot and use some sticks to lay across the top of the pot make a platform.  Place your foil envelope with your fish on top of the platform.  If you have a large pan at your disposal, you can put water in that and lay the envelope directly in the water provided you’ve sealed it correctly or the seals do not touch the watch.  You can also cook this over a fire or coals if you weave a platform to put it on over the fire/coals so it’s not in direct contact with flames or hot coals.  If you’re at home, simply throw into an oven that you’ve preheated to 350.  Cook times will vary depending on how you get the fire to your fish, size of the fillets, and altitude, but generally it’s around 15-20 minutes.  When you go to open this, beware of the stream waiting to burn you.  Garnish with chia seeds and enjoy!

  If you’re using the steam and stick-platform method, you can throw your sides into the boiling water below for a double task.  I like to eat this with some rice, but light weight instant potatoes work too.

Alright Savages, Until Next Time! Live Wild. Eat Well.

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