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Campfire Tinfoil Peanut Butter Fish

Try this delicious recipe with walleyes or white bass.

Campfire Tinfoil Peanut Butter Fish
This zesty fish recipe will quickly become a favorite.
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Some of my best fishing memories involve catching and cooking trout in tin foil over a campfire. I still prepare trout this way with a bit of lemon and a few herbs, maybe a sliced pepper and lots of butter. Those little 8- to 10-inch brookies? Yup, wrap up a half-dozen and you’ve got a meal fit for a king. The bones pull away from the flesh and the rest is pure goodness, meat, skin, and all.

But you don’t need trout to prepare fish in tinfoil. In fact, you can cook just about any fish species in tinfoil over a campfire or in the oven. Case in point, scaled, gilled, and gutted white bass, panfish, small bass, walleye, or whatever you happen to catch on a particular day.

01-tin-foil-peanut-butter-fish-recipe-closeup
Once cleaned and stuffed, they are ready for the peanut butter binder.
02-tin-foil-peanut-butter-fish-stuffed\

And preparation can be as simple or as elaborate as you want to make it, from adding just salt, pepper, and butter to adding lots of different spices, fresh herbs, cut-up vegetables, and yes, peanut butter...

The idea behind this unusual recipe came from a Liberian foreign exchange student who stayed with my parents when I was in college. Sam loved to fish and when it came time to cook our catch, he had some tricks that were completely out-of-the-box to this Midwesterner.

Kind of a funny story: On one camp outing we only caught a couple mid-size northern pike but he insisted we keep them for dinner. Although I knew how to fillet out the Y-bones, he wanted to gut and gill them and cook them in tinfoil over the campfire.

03-tin-foil-peanut-butter-fish-prepare
A little peanut butter adds a great flavor, but also keeps the seasoning pepper fully attached to the flesh.
04-tin-foil-peanut-butter-fish-prepped-to-cook
Ready to get wrapped up in foil and hit the coals.

I told Sam to go ahead and show me how he’d prepare the fish. I did insist he rinse the pike slime off as well as he could, and Sam proceeded to work his culinary magic.

*As a side note, if you want to remove pike slime completely, dump a cup of vinegar into a 5-gallon bucket of water and insert pike. Slosh the fish around and in a matter of minutes you can pull them out completely slime-free.

05-tin-foil-peanut-butter-fish-on-fire
An open fire makes for a perfect setting to prepare this recipe.

Sam rinsed the pike off as best he could, laid them out on the truck tailgate, dried them off with paper towels, and lathered peanut butter all over the spot-mottled, green and white skin, then sprinkled the peanut butter with hot pepper flakes, finishing the fish off by inserting their knife-split bellies with cut-up green and red peppers, hot peppers, onion, sliced sweet potato/yams, and whatever other vegetables we had on hand. Then he wrapped the whole fish in tin foil and placed on the campfire grate. He cooked some rice in a separate camp pot, too, and I know he added a cube of Maggi cube spice</a to the rice water.

How long did he cook the peanut butter tin foil fish? In those days, the time it took to drink two or three beers.

What’s the deal with peanut butter?

Sam explained it was the closest thing we had to some kind of chopped peanuts and red, palm oil mixture he was used using in his native Liberian cooking. See, the oil from the peanut butter helps cook the fish without adding any other oil or butter and you get the peanut-y flavor he was used to.

Since, I’ve replicated the impromptu Liberian pike with other fish, sometimes adding curry powder to the mix, which makes the flame-steamed and foil-baked fish even more internationally compelling. Know that this recipe is almost impossible to screw up and ends up tasting great. The bones pull out when cooked and the rest is just good eating—even pike skin, believe it or not.

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Recipe Basics: Campfire Tinfoil Peanut Butter Fish

  • Any scaled (in the case of pike, no need to scale; they don’t have any), gutted, gilled, and thoroughly rinsed whole fish
  • Peanut butter
  • Red pepper flakes and/or cayenne pepper sprinkled on the peanut butter fish skin coating (both sides)
  • Favorite herbs and/or curry powder or paste stuffed and rubbed inside the fish
  • Any cut-up vegetables on hand (stuffed into the fish cavity)
  • Tinfoil (completely wrap to avoid any steam/juice from escaping)
  • Open fire with rocks distanced from the flames to place the fish on or a grate over top of flame, fish set off just from the hottest areas
  • Rice for side dish
  • Cold beverages

Tired of the same ol’, same ol’ when cooking fish? Give this international experiment a try? It’s easy and tasty!

06-tin-foil-peanut-butter-fish-cooked
The sultry results are well worth the effort and patience.



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