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The Ling Cod season all wrapped up … in Pita Bread


Lingcod gyros

Lingcod gyros

It’s hard to believe ling cod season has come to an end already. A six week season seems to go by in a blink.

No complaints mind you.  When you see the numbers of these fish we have in our waters, there is no arguing that the WDFW has been successful protecting the ling population in Puget Sound.   Although that doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes wish that those six weeks could be stretched to eight or ten.

Our catch on the last day of the season

Our catch on the last day of the season

Picked up the 31 incher while fishing on my own a couple days before season end.

Picked up the 31 incher while fishing on my own a couple days before season end.

Enough day dreams though, let’s talk reality.
I managed to accomplish my goal of improving my success rate with these fish. Much more action this year, and significantly more ling cod caught. Even the last two members of the team who had yet to catch one popped their cherries and boated multiple lings this year. All in all, a damned fine season.

As I said before, I made a determined effort to school myself on catching these delicious fish.  Plus, I made use of the single most valuable tool for learning how to catch any fish: time on the water.  There is simply no substitute for finding yourself where the fish are, how they feel when they take the bait, and what works and what doesn’t work when trying to get them in the net.

The home stretch of the season had me a little worried, for a bit. We had been a little bit too successful, if there is such a thing. If you recall, the Puget Sound has a slot limit for ling cod; you can’t keep any fish under 26 inches long, or over 36 inches. We have a 10 inch window for keepers.

While we didn’t see an undersized fish all season, we had gotten ourselves into a temporary patch of catching over-sized beasts that had to be released. While I understand the importance of practicing catch & release on these big, brood mamas, it’s sometimes hard to watch all that delicious meat swim away.

3 big mamas we photographed then released 39; 40, & 42 inches respectively. They all swam away unscathed. Look at me straining to hold up that last one.

3 big mamas we photographed then released 39; 40, & 42 inches respectively. They all swam away unscathed.
Look at me straining to hold up that last one.

Doing the right thing sucks sometimes.
Fortunately, in the last days of the season, we picked up a few nice keepers.  Of course, that meant quite a few nice dinners.

Fish tacos have been popular with the crew. Of course, right?  Who doesn’t love fish tacos?
Here is a batch I made. Simply grilled ling cod, layered on soft corn tortillas with shredded cabbage, pico de gallo, and I drizzled a little Cucumber-Wasabi Dressing (cucumbers, wasabi paste, mayo, sour cream & vinegar, tossed into a blender) over the top.
Ling cod tacos,2

As I’m writing this, I’m munching on a bowl of Ling Cod Ceviche. That’s a mixture of diced cod, tomato, onion, avocado, jalapeno, garlic, lime juice, cilantro, olive oil & salt … served with tortilla chips. I’m having a good time right now.
Ling cod ceviche

The dish I really want to share with you though is what I call Ling Cod Gyros.
I know, I know, gyro purists will have their arms flailing like Kermit the Frog that if it’s not made with gyro meat, it’s not a gyro.   So please, to those of you who take issue with me calling this sandwich a gyro, allow me to call upon my 30+ years of professional cooking experience in order to simply and rationally explain my reasoning by saying ……
Piss off and get over yourself.

Now that is out of the way, let’s get on to the dish. It’s actually quite simple, grilled ling cod on pita bread with cabbage, onion & tomato. The only real recipe I need to give you is for my tzatziki sauce. Again, it’s not quite traditional, but it is damned good.

pita papaI like using napa cabbage for the gyros as well as for fish tacos, since it has a nice crunch to it, but isn’t as “hard” as regular green cabbage.
For the pita, I’ve tried a number of different store bought brands.  I’ll not try to get you to make your own flatbread from scratch … this time.  😉
There are plenty of fine, commercially available pitas out there.  My current favorite, and the one I used for this batch is Papa Pita. They are a little thicker than most and delightfully soft.

Ling Cod Gyros
Ling gyro roll

serves 4

  • 4 each, 4 ounce ling cod filets
  • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 pieces of pita bread
  • 2 cups, shredded napa cabbage
  • ½ tomato, diced
  • ½ red onion, sliced
  • tzatziki sauce: recipe follows

Season the fish with salt & pepper, and grill until done. If you’re not in a position to grill, pan searing the fish works well for this dish also.
Ling on the grill

Heat the pita on the grill (or in a pan) until it’s very warm & soft.
Layer the ingredients onto the pita bread, beginning with ½ cup of cabbage on each pita, then one piece of cod. Top each with tomato, onion, and finally drizzle with tzatziki sauce.
Serve immediately…. as if you & your guests will be able to stop yourselves from chowing down right away.

Ling gyro plate

Tzatziki Sauce

  • 1 Tbs minced green onion
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed & minced
  • ½ cup finely diced cucumber
  • ½ cup plain greek yogurt
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 Tbs chopped basil
  • 1 Tbs chopped mint
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp sriracha, or other hot sauce

Combine all ingredients. Allow to rest for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Ling gyro roll-2

I made a batch of of these out back on the grill yesterday, and passed out gyros to some of my neighbors.
I was the most popular guy on the block.

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