Thursday, July 28, 2016

Father and Son Fishing Trip

Last weekend my dad treated us to a fishing trip. When my brother and I were little and we had a little free time, we would head down to Galveston, TX every weekend we could and wade in the waters of Galveston Bay and fish until we ran out of shrimp, while munching on cold fried chicken to keep us going. We'd even charter a boat maybe once a year.

This trip was a little bit more sophisticated than the trips of our youth. We made the trip over south Louisiana to the town of Hackberry, which sits right on Lake Calcasieu. Hackberry Rod and Gun gets you setup and treats you right. Dinner is at 7:00 and the wake up call is at 4:30. Coffee and breakfast are ready and waiting for you.

In the morning we met our guide and loaded up the boat. Our guide, Jimmy, took us out first to catch our bait. Armed with mullet and pogey, we spent the day chasing red fish and speckled trout. We caught a few flounder too. We didn't catch our limit, but we were happy with the 27 fish we caught. Jimmy filleted our fish for us, washed it and bagged it. The red fish was filleted with the skin and scales left on, called on the half shell, which is the traditional way. 

Back at home, I put the red fish on the grill with simple seasoning of black pepper and salt. With the scales on, you leave the fish on the grill scales side down and cook until done without flipping. We made fish tacos and used the rest of the fish for some seafood chowder with some shrimp.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Charcoal: Briquettes vs Lump

There are many ways to barbecue. Grills come in all varieties from a fancy custom rig to portable folding beach grill. Of course the grill you choose depends on a variety of criteria: space, cost, and application.

Once the grill is chosen, and probably assembled, the next thing to consider is how you light your grill. If the grill is gas powered then it is a simple process. But if you are going charcoal, it can be a bit more complicated. The go to is simple lighter fluid. While I do still use it at times, I don't like it and I don't recommend it. It always seems to leave a lighter fluid flavor behind. I've seen people spend time to light charcoal with a blow torch, but it always seems to take a lot of time.

The best method I've ever found is the chimney starter. In my house there are always ads and coupons lying around waiting to be crumpled up in balls. It is also somewhat satisfying to use bills, they're on auto pay anyway, and junk mail.  This is the most natural way to light the grill there is.
I've recently made the switch from charcoal briquettes to lump charcoal. It is one of the best culinary decisions I've made in a long time.

With briquettes,  there was always a flavor I was trying to mask with smoke from various types of wood. Now, with the oak lump charcoal, the smoke is there and the undesirable flavor is gone. If you're on the fence or looking to try something new, I strongly recommend that you make you switch to lump charcoal.