The One Fish Recipe You Need in the Wilderness

Rachel Tepper Paley
July 15, 2014

Oh, hey. Do you like long walks in the woods, eating gooey s’mores by the fire, and making a meal out of whatever you can hunt, fish, or catch with your bare hands? Well, welcome to Camping Week, featuring tastier ways to get your outdoors on. 

Photo credit: Valerie Janssen/StockFood

When heading into the wilderness, there are only so many things you can control. You can carefully curate the contents of your day pack or test out the best sleeping bag on the market. And while you can estimate what fish you’ll most likely encounter, you can’t decide with certainty what you’ll catch.

Open water, it’s like nature’s grab bag!

With this in mind, seafood expert, chef, and seasoned camper Barton Seaver suggests choosing a one-size-fits-all recipe that’ll flatter a wide range of fish. Only three ingredients are required, he told us: lemons, olive oil, and salt.

"My very favorite thing is adding thin slices of lemon right into a [greased] pan to cook right along the [seasoned] fish," Seaver said. "The lemon caramelizes and crisps up—it’s a really nice garnish that adds color and texture. You don’t have to carry much in order to do it, and it’s not complicated." This simple preparation works with anything from steak-like swordfish to lean snapper, firm striped bass to (Seaver’s favorite) flakey flounder. All you need to know is when it’s done. 

Of the few ingredients, Seaver stressed, salt is the most important. He recalled when, on a recent 10-day foray into the Alaskan wilderness, the salt reserves began to dwindle. ”By the end of this expedition, the salt became gold,” he said. “The Scotch? We didn’t care so much about that.” (You mean no one started shouting, “Why is the Scotch gone?!”) So keep good salt at the ready, and season your fish liberally with it.

If you’re really looking to take things to the next step, though, throw a bottle of hot sauce in your pack. “People don’t tend to think about, but almost everything in the world can be made better with hot sauce.”