Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.
Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.
For any of you fishermen out there you've probably been vexed more than once over the occasional northern pike that grabs your bait and runs with it. It's usually a hammer handle that's too small to amount to anything. Catch a big one and you better be adept at filleting that fish just the right way to take out all of the Y-bones.
If you're like me most of the time you let them go. They may be fun to catch but too much trouble if you keep them. Besides they're slimy.
No more. I have the perfect solution. Pickle your pike. This takes a couple of days - so assembling this recipe is a fun weekend project.
Gas Pains' Pickled Pike
A couple of medium sized northern pike cut into pieces (see fish handling notes below)
Vinegar, kosher salt and sugar.
A couple of sliced carrots, one large sliced red onion, peeled fresh ginger (sliced). Peeled garlic cloves (optional).
Whole cloves, whole allspice berries, whole mustard seed and fresh bay leaves.
Combine one cup of kosher salt with a quart of water and soak your fish pieces in this brine for 24 hours in the fridge.
The following day - drain and replace brine with a quart of vinegar. Soak in the fridge another 24 hours.
The next day remove your fish from the vinegar reserving a couple of cups for making the canning solution. Keep the fish cold.
Combine the two cups of reserved vinegar with a cup of water and 1 1/2 cups of sugar. Heat to a boil while stirring to make sure everything is dissolved. Cool.
Into each quart jar add a half dozen pieces of fish. Add some sliced onions and carrots then another half dozen fish chunks. To each jar add two whole cloves, a couple of bay leaves, 1/2 t each of allspice berries, pepper corns and mustard seed. Add a couple or three slices of fresh ginger per jar. One peeled garlic clove to each jar (optional). Add another layer of onions, carrots and fish. Repeat. Top-off with cooled brine mixture and secure the lids.
Four quarts - a fine kettle of fish. Must be kept refrigerated. Allow to set a week before serving. Serve on snack rye or crackers with icy cold beers. Shelf life is about a month. Since this batch is for Schuetzenfest it won't make it to the end of August.
Note: About handling the fish. Scale your fish thoroughly, remove the viscera, head and tail. Cut crosswise into 3 to 4 inch steaks, place in ziploc bags of fresh water and freeze. Freezing will hopefully kill any parasites - otherwise repeat this recipe at your own risk. To prep your fish for canning allow to thaw overnight in the fridge. With a fillet knife cut down from the back (dorsal approach) to the spine then along the rib bones to the bottom. Trim away fins and any fatty belly tissue. Cut your fillets into pieces about an inch in size or slightly larger. Throughout the process rinse, rinse, rinse. Remember - they're slimy. About those annoying Y-bones? No problem. They dissolve.