When the first humans to stand upright gazed into the nearest pool of water, something amazing happened. Those early hominids saw fascinating creatures swimming beneath the surface and, being evolutionarily mobile bipeds, decided they should eat them. Thus began the timeless tradition of big people chasing little scaled critters with sticks, hooks, and rocks.
Despite technological advances that have since spawned entire fishing empires, when it comes to the lone rod-and-reel fisher versus an unseen population of fish, not much has changed. When you're standing streamside or lakeside in the great outdoors, you can feel a primal connection to the timeless pursuit of dinner. And when you're matching wits with a creature with a brain the size of a pea, you can feel pretty silly gazing at an empty creel.
It's this very uncertainty of the quest that makes you either love fishing or hate it. When you think about it, dangling a tiny, random hook in a large or swiftly moving body of water is a very inefficient way to go about feeding yourself. And who really understands how fish think? We like to believe we can second-guess their appetites, cruising speeds, vectors, and relative intelligence when it comes to taking the bait. And every fisherman has tried something wild--such as lacing a fly with anise oil or loading a hook with a Cheeto®--and then landed a lunker and declared himself or herself the "Fishing God." But the truth is, it's a wild gamble most days. In fact, there are times when you might as well be casting your bait between the stars. Who knows where those critters are lurking? As you run up and down the river bank trying to get that lure unstuck without losing it, you can almost hear the fish sing, "Na na na na na!" as they swim by unscathed.
But then that aggravating wait while the mosquitoes have their way with you is finally rewarded with a strong tug on the other end of the line. Suddenly it's all worthwhile. The caveperson within awakens with a roar. Who cares if it's a throwback? At least something happened! If you're real lucky, it's a keeper.
And that's why we love fishing. Few things are as satisfying as catching, cooking, and eating your own dinner.
Grilling also fulfills an ancient urge. But for some reason, few people are as confident grilling their catch as they are casting out that first line. This chapter should fix that. Next time you come home with a cooler full of actual fish, not just stories, don't stash them in the freezer and forget about them. Show them off on the grill and have the ultimate human experience. And even if you prefer to pick up your catch at the wharf or angle for it at the grocery store counter, you can still experience the thrill of a perfectly grilled fillet or shrimp kabob.
Oh sure, you can poach, bake, bread, and fry--and smother this and that with a rich cream sauce when you feel like it. But for a truly satisfying fish texture, nothing beats direct contact with the hot grate and the flame. You can always add that cream sauce later. First, get the important stuff done right. This chapter's easy recipes and masterful techniques will help you to do just that.
The most important rule is to be attentive at the grill. Since fish and seafood are very high in water, they grill up quickly. If you stray, you will pay. But it doesn't take long to become an expert either. Plus, it's lots of fun to practice (and you won't have the smell of cooked fish in your house for the next three days). If you're a nervous novice, start with a fish that's very forgiving on the grill: sea bass or swordfish. Or practice on small items you can grill one at a time, such as shrimp or scallops. Pretty soon you'll be pulling whole stuffed salmons or delicate calamari off the grill with a flourish. The recipes here have all the clues you need to succeed. Release the archetypal fisher within!
From Weber’s Big Book of Grilling. Copyright © 2001 Weber-Stephen Products Co. All rights reserved. First published by Chronicle Books LLC, San Francisco, California.
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