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Bob Banfelder

Bob is an award-winning crime-thriller novelist and outdoors writer. "The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water" is endorsed by Lefty Kreh and Angelo Peluso~online at Amazon.

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March 01, 2015

Four Essential Kitchen Tools: For Fish, Fowl & Meaty Favorites

by Bob Banfelder

Four indispensable pieces of equipment that positively belong in your kitchen are a food slicer, meat tenderizer, meat grinder, and vacuum sealer. Through the years, I have prepared many fine meals by utilizing these essential machines. I could not have done nearly as neat or as efficient a job without them. They go hand in hand to not only help produce gourmet-quality fare, but to also aid in eye-appealing presentations upon the finished plate. But to merely mention these four items rather than specifically elaborate on the important elements to be considered before selecting such equipment for home use would be foolish of me because you'd likely be wasting your hard-earned money in the long run. So let's home in on what's important before purchasing these items.

Pictured below are three Cabela's machines that are employed in our kitchen: an electric food slicer with tilted stand for easy cleanup, stainless steel blade (left); an all-important commercial-grade vacuum sealer, which is a godsend for preserving foods for extended periods (middle); a heavy-duty electric meat grinder (right). As you pretty much get what you pay for in this world of ours, of the three Cabela's machines shown, I'd strongly suggest purchasing the best model of the commercial-grade vacuum sealer that you can afford because of its importance. If you are an angler/hunter, planning to put up both fish and game through the four seasons, you want a top-quality machine that will last many years. During the fishing season, I fillet and freeze a fair amount of fish for our family to enjoy over those cold winter months (like this past January and February): striped bass, fluke, porgies, blackfish, black sea bass, (one of my favorites), eel, mackerel, shad, tuna, and—yes—even bluefish. Keep in mind, too, that you can take advantage of fish, poultry, and weekly meat sales offered at your local supermarkets and specialty shops throughout the year. Simply seal, freeze, and savor for a later date. A top-quality vacuum sealer is of paramount importance. You can easily keep fish for a year without the threat of freezer burn; meat for two years. Amazing.


Cabela's Electric Slicer, Vacuum Sealer, and Meat Grinder

Next is Cabela's meat grinder, which I not only use for making venison sausage and burgers in the fall and winter months, I also operate the machine to produce fresh, flavorful fishcakes through the spring and summer. With that kind of a four-season workout, you would not want to purchase just any meat grinder; you'd want to purchase a heavy-duty electric meat grinder for all occasions: fish, fowl, and meaty favorites. This will facilitate matters and ensure the unit's longevity. With an eye on heavy-duty quality equipment for home use, do not envision machinery that is going to break the bank and send you to the poorhouse, for companies such as Cabela's offer different grades of heavy-duty/commercial equipment.

Pictured below is a bowl of freshly mixed seafood for the finest fishcakes this side of Riverhead, Long Island. Its ingredients are comprised of fresh and/or fresh-frozen cherrystone clams, blue claw crabs, bluefin tuna (all from our local waters), herbs, vegetables, and secret seasonings. Cabela's heavy-duty meat grinder includes a 3mm (fine), 4.5mm (medium), and an 8mm (coarse) stainless steel grinding plate to allow for desired consistency. The unit includes other accoutrements for additional uses.


Grinding Fish for Fish Cakes

Last but not necessarily least in the Cabela's kitchen-trio lineup is a stainless steel electric food slicer. Apart from slicing meats, fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and hard breads, the machine comes in very handy for preparing sushi and/or sashimi. One process begins with thick, frozen fillets, slightly thawed for a semi-firm consistency, as the section will now easily pass through the slicer. Your prep work is cut [key word] dramatically. You can make thin slices for sushi rolls, thicker pieces for sashimi, slice precise cuts of fresh cucumber, avocado, asparagus, carrot, et cetera. I make delectable sushi rolls but with one caveat. I'll explain in a moment.

Last weekend we were invited to our good friends' home, Chris and Candy Paparo, to chow down on some fantastic sushi rolls and sashimi. The couple has their act down pat and work together as a team. Chris had caught the fish in Alaska this past July; namely, rockfish and salmon. He had done the prep work before we arrived. Candy put the rolls together like a pro. Retraction. She is a pro; an artist at work. I stood over her shoulder in their kitchen, asking a question every now and again, making sure she wasn't holding back on any secret(s): Asian condiments to be shared. Cutting the rolls, too, is an art; believe me. Chris worked deftly with a sharp, wet knife, arranging the fare on a platter before we all sat down to a satisfying sushi/sashimi feast as pictured below. By the way, if you enjoy nature photography, follow Chris on Facebook/Instagram at Fish Guy Photos and visit www.fishguyphotos.com.


Splendid Sushi and Sashimi

Although my own sushi rolls are delicious, they are just not up to par when compared to Chris and Candy's presentation; therefore, Donna and I do not put ours out for company—just yet. As Chris and Candy reside just across the Riverhead town line, I can still hold firm to the fact that I make the finest fishcakes along with, well . . . fair to middling-looking sushi rolls this side of Riverhead.

Lastly, I would like to introduce you to a marvelous tool that is worth its weight in mako meat. The Jaccard. It is a must-have implement for the kitchen. Billed as a meat tenderizing machine, it is an invaluable piece of equipment with which to brine or marinate red meat, poultry, and fish for the smoker. It will cut your brining and marinating time by forty percent; cooking time by half. For expediency, I wouldn't be caught preparing fare without this handy-dandy tool. For example, whereas whole cocktail-size blues or fillets ordinarily require approximately six hours of brining time (twelve hours for very thick fillets or larger whole fish), you can cut that curing time nearly in half by first using the Jaccard. The Jaccard is available in two models: a mini Jaccard with one row of sixteen blades; the larger model has three rows of sixteen blades; i.e., forty-eight blades. Donna and I elected to purchase the larger model and are certainly glad we did.


Jaccard Meat Tenderizer

Check out Cabela's Outfitters at www.cabelas.com for the aforementioned units as well as www.jaccard.com for this handy tenderizing device. Detailed methods for brining and smoking fish, in addition to several gourmet seafood recipes, can be found in my book titled The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water, available online at www.amazon.com.




Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller/Mystery Author & Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Co-host, Cablevision TV, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com






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