When I edited this the first time Scott pointed out that I had failed to say that he uses regular Heinz Yellow Mustard. The dried powder is an option, not his first choice.
To most of our region's fishing community, Captain Scott Moore is a legend in his own right. Often thought-of as the guy who taught the world how to use whitebait to chum snook, he told us in an interview that it was actually an old and passed friend of his, GB Knowles (and other 'old timers') that carried castnets on their shoulders while wading in the flats and backwaters of Charlotte Harbor. And that was where he learned to do it as a young guy chasing fish. It was Frank Sargeant that threw the title on Scott, and it's stuck ever since. Not that you won't be amazed at watching the guy hand feed Robalo like they were bluegill in your backyard pond.
We're lucky to have Scott as a personal friend, and something we learned about him is that before he became the best of the best in the guiding business he made a living as a chef. In days when restaurants filled with people seeking fish, Scott taught himself how to best prepare the catch of the day. He loves to call it "Cracker Cooking".
So do we. This is the first in a regular series of recipes, cooking tips and hints, and other table-compliant attitudes, insight, and education we can expect from Captain Scott. We're already honored to have him connected with this site in any way; to have his recipes is a dream come true. I stole a few for the book I worked on with our friend Captain Mel Berman, and having Scott continue helping our community is a true blessing, and one we really appreciate.
I've always -- since I was a kid -- felt that speckled trout are the best-eating of all the inshore fish we catch. I know a lot of you think that all I eat is snook, it's not true. My favorite has always been specks.
First of all -- and this is true for all recipes that I'll ever write for the site -- ice the fish you catch. I often see people open their cooler and lay fish on top of the ice. It just doesn't work nearly as well as covering the entire body of the fish; having warmer air -- exposed warmer air -- on half the fish changes the texture of the meat on that side and the results are less then then would be if you completely cover the body with ice.
Next are the size of the fish. I prefer to eat smaller fish -- between 16 inches and 19 inches. They taste best, and that lets me release the larger breeder fish. If a larger fish does get mortally injured -- and it happens no matter how careful I am -- I simply split the fish and grill them stomach-side down on a grill. The resultant grilled fish is wonderful, but still not my favorite. I like fried trout. Done right, they're the best.
- Speckled Trout (amount depends on the size of the school you have to feed)
- Yellow Mustard. Dried works too, but Scott likes the yellow in the recipe.
- Italian Breading or Panco Rice Breading
- One or two eggs; you can use the whites if you're scared of Cracker Food; we live OK lol
- Fillet the fish
- Soak the fillets in milk overnight. For two people, if the trout are 18-20 inches, two fillets are fine. Add a third if the trout are smaller -- let's say 15 to 17 inches. The 3 fillets make for a better meal. If you have any left over after dinner, put them in a baggie -- they'll stay nicely moist and make a great sandwich the next day.
- The next day, drain the fillets. Save the milk, though -- you're going to use it as a soak.
- Make an egg/milk 'wash'. You can use just the egg whites if you want, but we're talking fried fish here; Cracker Food rules use the whole egg (but rules can -- as you know -- be broken quite easily).
- Pat the now-dried fillets with yellow dried mustard on both sides.
- Dip in the egg/milk wash
- Dip in Italian Bread Crumbs. You can toss a little dried mustard in this breading, too. You'll be surprised and delighted by the results of the simple addition to the recipe. You can also use Panco (rice breading).
- Fry on both sides in a medium-hot pan till browned.
Enjoy, and think CrackerFood :)
Captain Scott for TheOnlineFisherman.com