Heartland Outdoors: Through the Lens

You Can’t Beat a Buffalo

Saturday, June 30

It’s no secret that I love bowfishing, and consequently we tend to pile up a whole lot of rough fish. One of the things about bowfishing that seems to be an issue with some folks, is that it’s a waste. Especially when native fish are shot.

I try pretty hard not to waste any of our fish. We eat the rough fish, I preserve the gar hides, use the scales, and am even considering trying my hand tanning some silver skins after seeing a gorgeous fish skin handbag online.

What seems to trouble most folks, especially when it comes to eating the rough fish is how in the world to clean and cook appropriately.

I previously did a blog post here that explained cleaning gar. Trust me once you master cleaning gar – the rest of the rough fish become easy peasy.

We’re going to look at cleaning buffalo today. Thanks to expert buffalo cleaner,  good friend, and fellow river rat Jesse Peese for helping me put together – gasp – a video how to for cleaning buffalo.

Some things to remember when cooking buffalo that we touch on in the video – For the frying process to negate those pesky bones – DEEP FRY! Pan frying just wont crisp up and get rid of the bones. Make sure that the grease is HOT – minimum of 350 degrees – 380 or 400 is even better. Additionally, it’s important to back your breading down into the scored slots. All of the above will help you turn out a perfect plate of tasty buffalo.

For smoking, smoke as you would any fish.  Brine it it over night with any seasons you prefer and some brown sugar or maple syrup. Rinse, allow a crust to form as it dries, and the toss on the smoker. We also will marinate in whatever marinade strikes my fancy and then smoke. That method works equally well.  I prefer “hot smoking” over cold and then any extra (you may have to pull a few bones) gets mixed in with cream cheese for really tasty cracker spread, or made into a salad. If I really have a pile that I have smoked, I vacuum pack it and it will last in the freezer about 3 months.  This makes it easy to always have smoked fish on hand for making appetizers when company arrives.

Lastly, because I firmly believe in waste not want not – some even gets pickled. Any recipe for pickling fish will work, and the pickling process also softens up those pesky bones.
So, next time you find yourself with some beautiful big buffalo in the boat – don’t just send them to the fertilizer pile – cook them up and enjoy a midwestern favorite river fish!


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