Door County Fish Boil

. January 5, 2021.
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Door County, Wisconsin is famous for its Fish Boils.  The Scandinavians immigrated to Door County and made use of the waters and land to devise the now very popular Fish Boil.

Freshly caught Lake Michigan whitefish, potatoes and onions are vigorously boiled in a big pot, over a hot fire.  When the fish is ready, kerosene is thrown onto the fire causing it to flame-up the pot to boil over just enough to push out the fish oils and debris.

The spectacular sight is followed by a fantastic picnic of whitefish, red potatoes and onions covered in melted butter, creamy coleslaw, black bread and red cherry pie.

For New Year’s Eve 2020, we made a Door County Fish Boil in Toledo over a fire! It was a perfect gathering for a small group and we were outside all evening. We boiled more than needed and ate every bite.  Simple food, greatly enjoyed.

Luckily, we had a cauldron and fire pit to get us going.  Finding fresh Whitefish was a challenge but Cod could have been substituted. Purchasing kerosene is possible however all you need is a cup or two, so we used lamp oil that was available in a small quantity.  Bringing 3 gallons of water to a boil took awhile; we filled the time enjoying the conversation and fire.

A fish boil, sans the boilover, can be made on the stove, yet if a pit and pot are available, try this with a couple of friends…just be careful of the flareup.

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*Quantities for fish, potatoes and onions are as much as your group will eat.

*Best to use a pot with a lift-out liner.

Whole white fish cut into 2” chunks (Yes, the bones are left in the fish for cooking.)

Medium sized red potatoes with a small slice removed from one side to help the flavors permeate the potatoes.

Small onions – no need to peel.

Enough water to fill the pot until about 3-4” short of the rim.

One cup kosher salt per gallon of water (Don’t skimp on the salt, you won’t taste it but is helps with the cooking and oils)

1-2 sticks unsalted butter, melted.

Bring water to a boil.

Add potatoes and 1 C salt, bring back to a boil.

Add onions and another cup of salt and boil. (15-20 minutes)

Test potatoes and when just about done, add fish and the balt of the salt. 

Boil vigorously until fish in pulling from skin (about 8-10 minutes)

Pour 1-2 cups of kerosene on the fire NOT into the pot.

Lift the pot liner out of the caldron and  turn the contents into a container.

Pour melted butter all over.


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