...particularly suckers, and especially buffalo suckers.
I have done more than my share of trotlining/limblining (Ky River is a little more than a mile from me) and have caught more than my share of flatheads, channels, and buffalo suckers, and, I'm ashamed to say I've never canned any.
The sucker is supposed to can good and the bones are supposedly made insiginificant during the process. I would love to know recipes, methods, tips, tricks, suggestions, ANYTHING anyone wants to share with me about canning fish. These rains coming in from the hurricane have given me 'the itch' to put my boat in and a trotline out and target some buffalo suckers, which are actually very plentiful and relatively easy to catch (the real challenge is netting them and getting them in the boat).
Here's some pics from a couple-three years ago; my Romanian SIL with a weekend's worth of fish and a sink full of 'buffalo ribs':
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
My state's DNR put out a cookbook some years ago regarding the cooking of 'rough fish' and they had some kick-a$$ recipes:
General Info on Rough Fish:
Certain oily fish species, particularly carp and freshwater drum can develop a musty taste during July and August, usually due to algae in their home waters. Sniff the gills if they have a musty odor, so will the fish. This is primarily in the reddish brown streak along the lateral line of the fillet, which should be sliced off. Also remove the mud vein from carp fillets.
Carp, as well as suckers, redhorse, quillback, buffalo fish, and the northern pike have many small Y bones in them. The fillet should be scored by cutting into the fillet every 1/4 3/8 inch in the front 2/3 of the fish. Cut through the fillet into the Y bones. This will allow cooking oils to penetrate to the bones to soften them so they cannot be detected. Score by cutting across the fillet sideways.
Get fresh-caught fish into an iced cooler chest. Ideally it should be bled and gutted before it is iced. If you don't have an ice chest, use a large mesh fish bag or clip type stringer, and keep your fish alive as long as possible. Handle the fish well and you will know it is in excellent condition for cooking.
Suckers and redhorse have many Y-bones. Best prepared by filleting, skinning and scoring prior to pan frying or freezing. Then run through a food grinder twice to break down the Y-bones. Use the ground fish in patties, hash or sausage. Both are also excellent pickled and canned.
Quillback or white carp are primarily used for smoking. They have Y-bones. Fillets should be twice ground to make patties, hash and sausage.
Bowfin or dogfish are best smoked. Freeze them for a month before smoking to harden the flesh.
Burbot or lawyer should be skinned as soon as possible after catching. Then fillet it. It is excellent pan fried, also boiled as "poor man's lobster". Save the livers after removing the dark green gall bladder. If you like liver, they are reputed to taste better than finest calves liver.
POOR MANS LOBSTER
2 qt. boiling water
2 TB salt
Drop fillets in salted boiling water. Return to full boil; allow burbot to remain in water 1 1/2 minutes and freshwater drum 3-4 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon.. Dip pieces into melted butter, or serve butter on the side.
CANNING ROUGH FISH
CANNED FISH THAT TASTES LIKE SALMON
3 TB catsup
4 TB vinegar
2 TB cooking oil
1 TB water
2 tsp salt
Clean fish, remove rib cage bones and cut in chunks to fit in a quart canning jar. Wipe fish dry, pack in jars. Pour mixture of catsup, vinegar, oil, water, and salt over fish. Leave 1 inch head space. Seal with standard canning lid, pressure cook 90 min at 15 lb pressure.
CANNED CARP, TASTES LIKE SALMON
Fillets of carp, cut up in pieces, and soaked in salt water overnight
Wash fillets in fresh water, then pack in pint jars. Leave 1 inch head space. To each jar, add:
1 1/2 tsp canning salt
1 TB white vinegar
1 TB tomato sauce
1 TB cooking oil Pressure cook 90 min at 10 lbs pressure (or 65 min at 15 lb pressure). Good with crackers and beer as an appetizer.
yellow salad style mustard
Scale fish, remove heads and intestines from pins size or smaller smelt or perch. Fresh caught alewives can be used also. Wash and pack standing up in pint jars, skin side out. Mix 3 heaping TB mustard to each cup of water, and use to fill jars 3/4 full of liquid. Add 1 1/2 tsp canning salt and 1/2 tsp lemon juice to each pint jar. Fill remainder of jar with vegetable oil, leaving 1 inch headspace. Process 70 min at 15 pounds pressure.
CANNED FRESHWATER DRUM OR WHITE BASS (TASTES LIKE TUNA)
Fresh or frozen fillets
salt cooking oil
Pack fillets in pint jars solidly. Leave 1 inch headspace. Add 1/2 tsp salt and 1 TB cooking oil per jar nothing else. Screw lids on, and pressure can 65 min at 15 pounds pressure.
Mix the following for each pint jar of fish:
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp canning salt
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp butter
1 tsp catsup
Soak sucker or redhorse fillets 1 hour in salt brine strong enough to float an egg. Remove from brine, pack in pint glass jars to within 1 inch of the top. Add mixture leaving the 1 inch headspace. Pressure can at 50 min for 15 lbs. pressure. Let stand 2 weeks before eating.
RECIPES FOR GROUND FISH
2 lb ground fish
1 c salted soda cracker crumbs (saltines)
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp thyme (optional)
1 small diced onion
Clean, skin and fillet fish. Those with Y-bones, run through medium coarse grinder plate twice. Add remaining ingredients, make into patties and fry crispy, or pack in loaf pan, cover with tomato sauce and bake at 350 until done.
2 lb filleted bullheads
1 large raw potato
1 small onion
1 large or 1 small eggs
2 TB flour
salt, pepper, seasoning salt to taste
Grind fillets coarsely, gring potato and onion through same plate. Mix with remaining ingredients and drop by TB into 1/2 inch hot fat. Bacon fat is very good. Fry until golden on both sides.
PICKLED FISH (SUCKERS, CARP, OR FRESHWATER DRUM/SHEEPSHEAD)
5/8 c pickling salt for each quart of fish
1 pt. white vinegar
1 pt. white port wine
3/4 c sugar
1/8 oz pickling spice
Cut fish in chunks. Dissolve salt in enough vinegar to cover the fish. Let stand 4-6 days in the solution. Keep at about 40 degrees F. Take out of salt solution and rinse well with cold water.
Place alternate layers of fish and onions in sterilized jars. Place hot mixture of vinegar, wine, sugar and spice over the fish. Refrigerate and let stand one week before using. This solution covers 4 qts of fish.
PLAIN PICKLED CARP OR OTHER FISH
6 c vinegar
4 c sugar
1 TB salt
2 c water
2 med onions, sliced
2 TB pickling spice
Bring ingredients to a boil at least 5 minutes. Lower heat, when at a simmer, add pieces of filleted, scored carp. Do not boil. The fish will turn white. Watch closely, as time of simmering depends on size of fish pieces. Put in glass or stoneware container, and cover with liquid. Let stand several days.
SAVE THE CATCH PICKLED FISH
2 1/2 3 lb fish fillets, fresh or frozen
1 1/2 c sliced onions
1 1/2 c sliced carrots
2 TB dry mixed pickling spices
1 1/2 c water
3/4 c vinegar
2 TB salt
1 TB sugar
Cut fish in 1 inch pieces. Place in 2 qt covered casserole 1/3 of the fish, then 1/3 of the onions, carrots and pickling spices. Repeat layers twice more. Combine water, vinegar, salt and sugar and bring to a boil. Pour over ingredients in casserole. Cover. Heat in slow oven (325 F) for 1 hour or until mixture reaches the simmering stage. Remove from oven and cool. Refrigerate at least 24 hours, then serve as an entrée with potato salad and a vegetable, or as an appetizer with crackers, toast squares, or party rye. Makes 6 entree servings or 10-12 appetizer servings.
I hope this give you some fine eating! It is a pity to waste rough fish because you dont know how to cook them. By the way, the recipe book in it's entirety is on the internet. enter - dnr.wi.gov/fish/kidsparents/anglereducation/teaching.html - and when it comes up, click on 'angler education materials' then the link 'a fine kettle of fish for chefs of all ages' for a PDF of the entire book. It is an excellent one, includes info on cooking turtles, crayfish, and all manner of rough fishes.