Cooking Wild Recipe: Baked Stuffed Fish

Baked Stuffed Fish: A memorable big fish supper.

Whether you stuff it and bake in foil over glowing embers for a special fish camp supper to show off the day’s trophy or take the prize home and cook it in a clay baker, here’s one of the most impressive and tastiest ways to showcase a fresh fish.

What I like most about this old recipe of my dad’s is that it works great for any species of fish: trout, walleye, pike, whitefish or whatever catch you’ve been lucky enough to reel in (including salmon). And even though I call it a big fish supper, it can be downsized for smaller keepers, too, simply by cutting the stuffing recipe down to size.

If making this meal fish camp fashion, use a double thickness of heavy duty aluminum foil to protect the delicate flesh from harsh campfire heat which is harder to control than oven temperature.

For the at-home version of this recipe, I use an authentic clay baker specially made for baking fish. My fish clay baker measures over 22 inches long so it accommodates a big fish, especially if head and tail are removed. The dish is also narrow which encases the fish with even temperature ensuring it cooks fast and evenly throughout.

If you don’t have a clay baker you can use the foil method at home, too but for those who love baked fish as I do, a clay baker is well worth the investment as it does a superior job producing a moist, tender creation every time. Clay bakers can be found where specialty-cooking wares are sold and if purchasing one for fish, be sure it is long and lean. When I purchased mine years ago it was fairly expensive but today with healthful eating being a growing concern amongst many folks, clay bakers are in demand and thus easier to come by and lower in price.

I mention healthy eating because this recipe calls for very little fat and none of the nutrients of the fish are lost during the cooking process as the rice stuffing absorbs all of the natural juices from the fish.

You can use plain long grain rice as dad did but wild rice adds nuttier flavour to the stuffing and a little more colour to the dish. Don’t fret if you think your fish is too small to hold all of the stuffing for only a small portion of it is meant to actually go inside the fish, regardless of size.

Most of the stuffing is used as a base for the fish to cook on. The dressing serves four and is ideal for a fish of about six pounds. For a larger fish and a bigger party, you can double the stuffing. Or whittle it down for a smaller catch.

Ingredients

  • 6 pound whole dressed fish (if fish is too large for your baker you can remove head and tail)
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Nutty Rice Stuffing

  • 1 cup wild rice cooked according to package directions
  • 1/2 cup fine breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced celery
  • ¼ cup sliced green onions
  • ¼ cup ground almonds
  • Juice of 1 lemon and 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced basil

Mix stuffing ingredients. Grease bottom of clay baker or foil with 1 tablespoon of butter. Lightly stuff the fish with dressing. Place remaining dressing on bottom of baker or on buttered foil and lay stuffed fish on top. Dot with remaining butter, put on lid or wrap securely and bake in 350F oven for 40 minutes (or over embers), turning often until fish is flaky. Slip off skin and discard before serving. Garnish with lemons and dill.

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