How to cook fish without a fire: steaming or grilling with Sidewinder setup?
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David Poston
(dgposton) - F

Locale: Texas / Colorado
How to cook fish without a fire: steaming or grilling with Sidewinder setup? on 06/15/2014 17:01:18 MDT Print View

This summer I will be doing some backpacking in areas that might have fire bans. I'm curious--is there a technique by which I could use boiling water to cook my fish? I steam fish all the time Asian style with with my steamer at home, so I thought this might be viable on the trail as well.

I'm trying to avoid frying if at all possible, simply because it seems like it would end up being a big mess cleaning it up. Not to mention that I don't want the extra weight of a frying pan. Perhaps worse--it may end up burned, since I'm not using a "real stove" but rather a Trail Designs Sidewinder setup with the gramcracker Esbit stove.

One idea I had was to put pebbles in the bottom of the pot and place the fish (cut into small pieces, since my pot is only 5" diameter or so) on top to steam. But is there a better way? I know there is something called the "bakepacker." I'm curious if something similar could be rigged to keep fish off the bottom of the pot. Perhaps hardware cloth of some kind?

If anyone knows of an insert that looks like the bakepacker, but with a much lighter weight and would fit either the 0.9 or 1.3 L Evernew pots, please advise. Thoughts?

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: How to cook fish without a fire: steaming or grilling with Sidewinder setup? on 06/15/2014 17:19:05 MDT Print View

"is there a technique by which I could use boiling water to cook my fish?"

Yes, poach chunks of fish in a soup base of your choice, either made from scratch or using a commercial one such as one of the Thai Kitchen varieties. Asian markets will have a wide variety of soup bases, too. When I was still fishing, I found soups to be the least difficult to clean up after, as well as simple and satisfying. Add noodles, and you've got protein and carbs in one simple dish. With the soup mixes, you will typically bring the water to a boil, add the spice packet(s) and fish, turn flame down to simmer, poach until about half done, and then add the noodles(if you are using them) and cook until everything is cooked. You can also substitute other carbs, like cous cous, pre cooked dehydrated rice, quinoa, etc, or even add instant mashed potatoes after the fish is fully cooked. Have fun playing around with it; it's a great way to enjoy fish in the mountains. It might even be a good idea to experiment at home with store bought fish until you get some sense of how long it takes to cook fish and noodles so you can time when to add each ingredient. Even so, there will be a learning curve at altitude because water boils at a lower temperature.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: How to cook fish without a fire: steaming or grilling with Sidewinder setup? on 06/15/2014 17:32:18 MDT Print View

I've straight up boiled fish before, not as part of a soup or anything. It tasted fine. It's the easiest way to cook a fish, no worries about overcooking or burning.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: How to cook fish without a fire: steaming or grilling with Sidewinder setup? on 06/15/2014 19:23:13 MDT Print View

"If anyone knows of an insert that looks like the bakepacker, but with a much lighter weight and would fit either the 0.9 or 1.3 L Evernew pots, please advise. Thoughts?"

Yes, this is an old problem, often discussed on here. The lightest solution for steaming, I think originally due to Sarah Kirkconell:

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=7855

made up of a coiled strip and a plate with holes, both cut from a cheap Al baking pan. Variations can me made on this basic plan to fit you taste that will allow you to steam things like fish.

But poaching also works just as well in the case of fish.

Or as Justin always calls it - boiling. :-)

Edited by millonas on 06/15/2014 19:27:17 MDT.

Jon Fong
(jonfong) - F - M

Locale: FLAT CAT GEAR
Steaming fish on 06/15/2014 19:31:36 MDT Print View

Make some rice. When the rice starts to boil switch it to a simmer. When the water level drops to the level of the rice, place your fish on top. The rice will cook and you steam your fish at the same time. Bring a little chopped green onions and a little soy sauce and you are good to go. I have even made a parchment paper origami boat to support the fish as well.. Jon

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Steaming fish on 06/15/2014 19:50:20 MDT Print View

I'm now a big fan of the way Tom described that wil get you virtually identical results, if you use dehydrated cooked rice,pasta or couscous, is poach the fish in the amount of water you need to do the re-hydration, and then rehydrate with that water and cooked fish. The taste of the fish makes it to "substrate" probably a tiny bit more than the way you describe.

Also a lot quicker (5 minutes poaching as opposed to 25 rice cooking) and fuel efficient.

Edited by millonas on 06/15/2014 19:54:10 MDT.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Steaming fish on 06/15/2014 20:39:45 MDT Print View

" Bring a little chopped green onions and a little soy sauce and you are good to go."

+1 Also, if you are at a lake with boggy areas around the inlet/outlet at elevations near 10,000', look for wild onions. They look just like the domestic variety, and have a wonderful, slightly stronger flavor. The whites are tough, but edible. I used to stuff trout belly cavities with a combo of them, carried garlic, ginger, and a squeeze of teriyaki sauce before baking, but those flavorings would work well with a simple broth as well.

Alex Wallace
(FeetFirst) - F

Locale: Northern California
the next meal on 06/16/2014 13:53:04 MDT Print View

After poaching a fish in a Ti pot (e.g. MSR Titan .85L), will my morning coffee also taste like fish? Does Ti hold on to flavors?

Edited by FeetFirst on 06/16/2014 14:47:16 MDT.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: the next meal on 06/16/2014 14:34:32 MDT Print View

Smell yes, taste probably not.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: the next meal on 06/16/2014 16:29:46 MDT Print View

"After poaching a fish in a Ti pot (e.g. MSR Titan .85L), will my morning coffee also taste like fish? Does Ti hold on to flavors?"

Shhhh! Don't say it so loud, or everyone will want trout-flavored coffee!

But seriously, I actually tested this a couple of time in my jetboil. If you rinse out the pot afterwards it seems fine.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: the next meal on 06/16/2014 17:17:00 MDT Print View

"After poaching a fish in a Ti pot (e.g. MSR Titan .85L), will my morning coffee also taste like fish? Does Ti hold on to flavors?"

Not if you clean it properly. One way is with soap, but I prefer to use a handful of
mud from a stream bank/lake shore for a first scour, followed by a rinse and then a second scour with a handful of moss from the same source and a thorough rinse. I've never had any trouble with residual odor/taste after using that method. It also has less environmental impact than disposing of soap residue.

Dan Yeruski
(zelph) - MLife

Locale: www.bplite.com
Roast in aluminum Foil on 06/16/2014 20:12:03 MDT Print View

Wrap fish in aluminum foil, use Ti stake as skewer through center of fish, support on top of Ti cone, use esbit as fuel.

Or get a stove made for fish ;)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxenLQXN-Wk

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Roast in aluminum Foil on 06/16/2014 20:35:36 MDT Print View

I'm not into fishing, but, it seems a shame not to fry it or roast it on a fire some how.

Sort of like boiling a hot dog.

John Harper
(johnnyh88) - M

Locale: The SouthWest
Re: Re: Steaming fish on 06/16/2014 20:48:14 MDT Print View

Curious how you prepare the fish for poaching in the backcountry? Just find a rock, fillet, and cut it up? I've only ever smoked trout on a stick or roasted in aluminum foil due to the minimal prep required.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Re: Steaming fish on 06/16/2014 20:57:25 MDT Print View

I don't fillet it, just gut it and boil it.

Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
Fish in the backcountry on 06/16/2014 21:47:08 MDT Print View

Jerry, you're right. Fish tastes much better roasted in foil or pan-fried. Both of these can be done with a canister stove - usually allowed in fire-interdicted areas - with a Jetboil Fry Pan or Zia grill. Add some mint (often available streamside), garlic, and green onions and you've got a gourmet meal. Worth every ounce of the extra weight.

Zorg Zumo
(BurnNotice) - F
Use small fish on 06/17/2014 17:28:07 MDT Print View

I know we all like to catch lunkers, but the best trail eating fish are the little brookies or cutthroat no bigger than 10". Big fish are too thick, take too long to properly cook, and there is just too much of them.

David Poston
(dgposton) - F

Locale: Texas / Colorado
Re: Steaming fish on 06/18/2014 12:09:16 MDT Print View

Jon,

I like your idea. Are you using pre-cooked and then dehydrated rice for this? Do you have any suggestions on how I ought to pre-cook my rice before dehydrating? I eat a lot of rice at home but don't ever do so on the trail.

Now you mention "switching the stove to a simmer." Any ideas on how I'd do this using my gram-cracker Esbit stove setup from Trail Designs? How long should the fish sit on the rice before it's done? And can I do this using Esbit flame without burning my rice?

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: Steaming fish on 06/18/2014 15:20:07 MDT Print View

"Do you have any suggestions on how I ought to pre-cook my rice before dehydrating?"

Just cook the rice normally, like you are going to eat it. Then dehydrate it. The first time you ever do this re-hydrate some to check it out. The ratio is about 1 cup of boiling water (+ poached fish, fish not included in volume) to 1 1/2 cups cooked and dehydrated rice. Adjust this to taste. Let sit for 10 minutes or so.

For the cooking the fish with the rice you are more or less covered I think if it is long enough. You should be able to steam fish in less that 10 minutes with the lid on. Going over is not going to ruin anything in this case as the temperature is pretty limited, and there is, well, steam to keep it from dryness.

Edited by millonas on 06/18/2014 15:27:49 MDT.