There’s nothing better than sharing a meal with the fish you caught.
However, not all of us are natural-born chefs. Or event planners. Couple that with how delicate fish can be – it’s no surprise hosting a wild game dinner seems daunting.
I want to provide you with a simple party guide that will take the guesswork out of planning.
Not everyone gets a chance to enjoy speared fish.
Instead of depriving them, let’s find ways to make it easy to host a gathering so you don’t have to worry about:
- Putting all the responsibilities on yourself.
- Fronting the expense.
- Cleaning up the waste.
Here’s how you can make lasting memories this weekend:
Step 1: Save your sanity by planning.
Anything done last minute turns into a rushed mess.
The day you catch a fish shouldn’t be the day you serve it to friends. This means you have at least two days to wrangle the troops to come over.
The key is proper storage. Keep your bled and gutted fish in a saltwater ice slurry and let it rest in a cooler. If you’re throwing the party three days or more from when the fish was caught then I’d freeze them. Pull them out of the cooler, dry them off, fillet, and vacuum seal them before throwing them in the freezer.
Now that the fish is resting, it’s time to pick the style of dishes to be served.
Step 2: Pick the style of food before reaching out to people.
Take away the needless back-and-forth decision-making with folks who aren’t familiar with the fish you caught.
You know the species better than them. If not, here’s a quick primer:
- Rockfish: Baja-style tacos
- Bonito: Sashimi or breakfast machaca burritos.
- Yellowtail: Broiled collars, ceviche, sashimi, sushi, poke
- Perch: Baked or whole deep-fried tacos
- Opaleye: Poke
- Tuna: Seared steaks, poke, sashimi, sushi
- Scallops: Sauteed or raw
- Uni: Pasta sauce or uni butter
Serving raw food requires extra care. It’s not just the parasites that can wreak havoc on you but bacteria from poorly cleaned surfaces.
Cleanliness rules of thumb:
- Kill anisakiasis parasites by freezing fish at -4 degrees Fahrenheit for seven days before serving. [Source]
- Use diluted bleach and water to clean cutting boards and knives before cutting raw fish.
- Don’t mix animal proteins and vegetables on the same cutting board. Have multiple cutting boards.
Ranking dish cooking effort:
- Basic fried or baked fish with veggies and rice
- Baja-style fried fish tacos
- Sushi and sashimi night
Don’t be afraid of keeping it simple the first few times before jumping into the raw fish game.
Step 3: It’s time to delegate responsibilities.
You’re going to feel the need to do everything. Learn to delegate.
Delegating starts at the invite. Tell people it’s going to be a potluck. Make sure you have a distribution of people tasked to bring sides, drinks, desserts, and condiments. Try to keep the necessary items with yourself, so the meal isn’t derailed because someone forgot something important.
Before people arrive, start the prep. Make sure every tool you need is there – pots, pans, fryers, tongs, knives, spatulas, etc. If you need to chop things, start it early, but don’t be afraid to dish out the task to folks who arrive early. You’re not a restaurant. Everyone should be willing to get their hands dirty. Plus, it adds to the fun.
Now let’s plate it up and eat.
Step 4: Enjoy the food and the company.
The little things separate a dud party from a memorable one.
Set the tone with background music at a volume people can still talk over. Get the beverages flowing early so people are loose before dinner. Keep the TV off so the guests are encouraged to talk and catch up.
Once the food is ready, keep it simple and have them serve themselves. The more you can get people involved, the more they’ll feel like they were part of the magic. If you’re not afraid of public speaking, give a brief toast sharing a few sentences about how you caught the fish they’re eating. Thus, heightening their tastebuds before they even take their first bite.
Lastly, enjoy the feast!
I wish you many joyous, wild food gatherings. Just don’t forget to ask for help with the dishes.