For more adventuresome cooks and anglers, Ned Kehde, fishing enthusiast and outdoor columnist for the Journal-World, has several recipes for less popular fish that are available to catch in area ponds and lakes. The recipes were given to him by a fishing buddy, Kansas University professor Pok Chi Lau.
Lau had a few tips for cooking fish. First, all the preparation for cooking needs to be done beforehand, because of the quick cooking time. Cooking time is important -- overcooking causes the fish to lose flavor.
Freshwater drum is "a heck of a fish," Kehde said, though most people don't think to cook it. He takes fillets with the skin on it, but scaled, and cuts them into strips thinner than his little finger and not as long. The strips are marinated in a little salt and sugar. Then he fries them on both sides in an extremely hot wok with soy margarine, just enough to coat the bottom. The oil should be smoking. It takes 2 minutes.
He serves the fish on a bed of greens with a sliced scallion for a garnish. A bowl of rice is on the side. He said a dash of sesame oil can be good, too.
"It's absolutely delicious," he said. The recipe can be used for black bass, too.
White bass fishing is "good" in area lakes right now, Kehde said. To serve these fish, Kehde takes a 10- to 12-inch-long bass and guts, gills and scales it.
Lau slices ginger root into 10 paper-thin slices. These slices are then trimmed into strips 1/16 inch wide and 1 inch long. He cuts 2 green onions into similar strips and removes the stems from 4 stalks of cilantro.
To make a sauce, he mixes 1/8 teaspoon of sugar, 4 tablespoons of hot water and 4 tablespoons of light soy sauce.
The fish are steamed for 7 to 8 minutes.
"You don't want to overcook them," he said.
While the fish is cooking, he heats up 4 tablespoons of cooking oil in a saucepan until it smokes. He adds the onions and ginger (and cilantro), stirs and then pours the oil mixture over the fish. He adds the sauce over the top and serves.
Kehde had one favorite recipe from Lau that works for all catfish, blue cat, channel cat, flat head and bull head. The recipe serves four people and requires two fillets.
If the fish was caught in a river or is a flat-head catfish that may taste a bit muddy, Lau recommends soaking the fillet in 1 cup of water with salt for 20 to 30 minutes. He rinses it and pats it dry with a paper towel before marinating.
He takes 2 green onions or scallions, purple basil and/or cilantro, and strips of sweet red pepper 1 inch by 1/16 of an inch. Cut the green onions in strips an inch long by an 1/8-inch wide. Chop the basil into 1/2-inch pieces. Set aside.
Next, the fillets are marinated in 2 tablespoons of Thai sweet and chili sauce (available at Asian markets), 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon rice wine or other liquor and 1/2 teaspoon corn or tapioca starch mixed with 2 tablespoons of light soy sauce.
For thick fillets, from a catfish 5 pounds or bigger, Kehde suggests making slits in the meat every 3/4 of an inch. The meat should marinate 20 to 30 minutes, "the longer the better," he said.
He heats 2 tablespoons cooking oil or a half-stick of soy margarine in a wok until it smokes. "This stuff has to be cooked hot and fast," Kehde said. He fries the catfish fillets until the edges are brown and then flips them. It takes about 6 minutes.
He places the fillets on a plate and adds the garnish -- peppers, onions, cilantro and/or basil -- to the pan. He stir-fries it for 30 seconds and then adds 2 tablespoons water and serves over the fish.
Lau uses a similar recipe for white bass, too.
Taking three fillets, he marinated them in 1 teaspoon sugar, 4 tablespoons of hot chili sauce, and 2 tablespoons of light soy sauce. The fillets were pan-fried with the marinade in 4 to 5 tablespoons of soy margarine, skin side first. Lau added tomato quarters and a tablespoon of water, and covered it for 30 seconds. He served the fish with slices of mango and rice.