Hank Shaw, author of the book “Hunt, Gather, Cook” and a James Beard Award-winning chef, will guide us through his acclaimed books like “Buck, Buck, Moose” and “Hook, Line, and Supper,” revealing secrets to achieving the perfect high-heat cooking techniques and ensuring your fish never sticks to the pan again.

From identifying wild berries to mastering the art of cooking over an open fire, Hank’s expertise will elevate your outdoor cooking game. Plus, we’ll get a glimpse into his fascinating journey from political journalism to becoming a full-time hunter, fisherman, and gatherer. Get ready for an insightful and delicious adventure with Hank Shaw!

Show Notes with Hank Shaw on Hunt Gather Cook. Hit play below! 👇🏻

apple podcasts

Find the show:  iTunes | Stitcher | Overcast

Subscribe on Android

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts

Subscribe on Google Podcasts

Subscribe via RSS

(Read the Full Transcript at the bottom of this Blog Post)


Sponsors and Podcast Updates


Episode Chapters with Hank Shaw on Hunt Gather Cook

2:40 – Hank talks about his lifelong connection to fishing, stemming from his family background in Gloucester, Massachusetts. He recalls childhood memories of fishing and eating seafood.

5:54 – We delve into Hank’s journey to becoming a notable figure in the cooking world. Hank recounts his early career as a restaurant cook while attending college and graduate school. He later transitioned to journalism, covering politics extensively, including two presidential campaigns.

His work in the food industry garnered significant recognition, including multiple James Beard nominations and an award in 2013, likened to the Oscars in the culinary world.

8:42 – Hank’s first book, “Hunt, Gather, Cook” was based on his blog and published in 2011. He then authored  “Duck, Duck, Goose” in 2013, followed by “Buck, Buck, Moose” in 2016, the first book he fully owned. Subsequent titles include “Pheasant, Quail, Cottontail” in 2018 and “Hook, Line, and Supper” in 2021.

12:08 – Hank gives valuable tips on frying fish. He emphasizes that certain types of fish, specifically fatty and soft varieties like trout and salmon, are not ideal for frying. Instead, he recommends whitefish, which are leaner and firmer, for better frying results. One critical advice he offers is to use high heat when frying, as insufficiently hot oil leads to greasy food. Properly heated oil sets the batter and cooks the fish from the inside out, preventing oil from seeping in and making the fish soggy.

15:11 – For cooking trout, Hank suggests using smoke and fire because trout, particularly wild trout, are fatty and soft. He mentions methods such as smoking, smoke roasting, and grilling. He highlights the importance of using a clean, hot, and oiled grate to prevent the fish from sticking, which is a common issue when grilling fish. Hank advises against fiddling with the fish on the grill, noting that once the fish can be moved easily, it’s ready to be flipped, and typically, he only flips the fish once.

Grilled Trout or Kokanee (Photo via: https://honest-food.net/grilled-trout-recipe-whole/)

21:22 – He discusses the nuances of cooking wild game, particularly focusing on venison. He touches upon common mistakes made by novice cooks, such as overcooking tender cuts and undercooking tougher parts. Hank emphasizes that proper cooking techniques are crucial, providing tips like letting the meat rest and using pan sauces to finish undercooked cuts.

25:17 – Hank ranks different types of fuel for grilling. He advocates for wood as the best option due to its flavor and smoke, followed by lump charcoal, briquettes, and propane. He also underscores that wood provides the best results, but requires more effort and skill.


27:51 – He talks about how he cuts wild game. In cutting deer, he would take the backstrap off, clean it up, and cut it into lengths.

Photo via: https://www.outdoorclass.com/instructors/hank-shaw

29:47 – He explains the step-by-step process of doing the finger test for doneness for cooking meat.

31:40 – We talk about the safety concerns associated with eating raw fish, particularly focusing on sushi. Hank emphasizes that the primary vector for tapeworms in the US is trout sushi and strongly advises against eating raw trout unless it has been properly frozen. He also touches on the risks associated with eating freshwater salmon, which can carry tapeworms once in rivers.

Hank recommends freezing the fish for about a week to ensure its safety for raw consumption. He also notes that other species of fish may not require such precautions.

33:54 – Hank explains the difference between pelagic and benthic fish. Pelagic fish, such as tuna, mackerel, and bluefish, live in the middle or top layers of the water, whereas benthic fish, like flounder, live on or near the bottom.

37:18 – Hank discusses his book “Hunt, Gather, Cook,” describing it as a primer on various wild activities like fishing, foraging, and hunting. The book aims to inspire and provide foundational knowledge for those looking to delve into these fields, whether they are experienced in one area or new to another.

38:51 – For those in the Midwest or the East, Hank recommends the books by Samuel Thayer which he says are some of the best foraging books.

40:48 – Hank mentions that he has a course on venison through an online course called Outdoor Class. In addition, he hints at an upcoming fishing course that has already been filmed and is expected to be released soon.

42:33 – To help you identify plants on your hike or outdoor trip, Hank suggests a few books, including one by H.D. Harrington called “Edible Native Plants of the Rocky Mountains”. He also highlights “Botany in a Day” as a valuable resource for learning basic plant knowledge.

44:30 – Hank emphasizes the importance of clinical identification in mushroom hunting, using a method called “keying out,” where you follow a series of if-then statements to accurately identify a species. This precise approach helps prevent mistakes that could arise from over-relying on instinctual pattern recognition.

Mushroom Recipes (Photo via: https://honest-food.net/category/foraging/mushroom-recipes/)

He also recommends books by Paul Stamets, a renowned expert on mushrooms, and mentions that Michael Pollan has also written a book involving mushrooms.

46:35 – Hank offers useful advice on identifying edible berries. He explains that any berry that looks like a blackberry or raspberry, with its compound fruit structure, is generally safe to eat. He also mentions that berries with a star-shaped mark on the bottom, like blueberries, are part of the Vaccinium clan and are all edible. This star mark is a reliable indicator of whether a berry is safe to consume.

Wild Berries Recipes (Photo via: https://honest-food.net/category/foraging/berries-and-fruits-foraging/)

51:01 – We talk about cooking methods for surf perch, a type of fish that can be challenging due to its mushy meat. Hank suggests deep frying the fish after scaling, slashing, and dusting it with cornstarch, which produces a good result. He also recommends making fish cakes from skinless fillets for a different preparation method.

53:49  – Hank clarifies that buying wild game has been illegal in the US for over a century, but farmed game is available. When buying fish, he suggests visiting good fish markets, particularly in areas like the Pacific Northwest and the Twin Cities, where places like Brookies offer excellent quality fish. Hank also recommends Asian markets for high-quality fish, though cautioning that one must be able to identify fresh fish.

55:06 – He explains how to determine the freshness of a fish, emphasizing that the fish should look as if it just came out of the water. Key indicators include bright eyes that are not sunken or clouded and gills that are a pleasing pink or red color. For fish fillet, Hank mentions the press test: fresh fish meat will bounce back when pressed, although most fish markets may not allow this test.

55:55 – Hank mentions that the most common problem in cooking fish is fish sticking to the pan or grill. To prevent this, he advises that the pan and oil must be very hot, and the fish must be extremely dry. Hank emphasizes the importance of using high smoke point oils like canola, rice bran, or avocado oil. He also shares a crucial tip: when placing the fish in the pan, immediately jiggle the pan to ensure the fish doesn’t stick. This motion helps the fish slide, preventing it from sticking to the pan and potentially overcooking.

57:16 – Hank’s favorite ingredient to add when cooking fish is wild fennel, but also highlights mushrooms as a versatile option. He explains that mushrooms like morels pair wonderfully with trout, and button mushrooms complement white fish. Hank likens the combination to music, where fish represents higher, lighter notes, and mushrooms provide a grounding base note, creating a harmonious and complete dish

Trout with Morels recipe (Photo via: https://honest-food.net/trout-morels-recipe/)

58:31 – We discuss various aspects of commercial fishing, particularly in Alaska. Hank shares his experience, noting that while he hasn’t fished for Atlantic salmon, he has been involved in commercial fishing since his late teens. Recently, Hank has been gillnetting salmon around the Juno area, which he finds rewarding.

1:02:39 – Hank reminisces about the earlier days of his career in journalism, highlighting how politics used to be centered around compromise and debate.

You can find Hank Shaw on Instagram @huntgathercook.

Substack at tothebone.substack.com

Visit his website at huntgathercook.com.

Resources Noted in the Show

Related Podcast Episodes

WFS 544 – Hunting and Cooking Wild Game and Fish with John Schneider – Food Afield Podcast, Campfire Cooking, Foraging

Read the Full Podcast Transcript Below

Conclusion with Hank Shaw on Hunt Gather Cook

Hank’s expertise, gleaned from years of experience and passion for the craft, offers invaluable tips for achieving culinary perfection. From mastering high-heat cooking techniques to properly preparing fish and wild game, Hank has equipped us with the tools to transform our outdoor harvests into gourmet meals.

We hope this episode has inspired you to try new techniques and explore the joy of cooking wild game and fish. Don’t forget to check out Hank’s award-winning books like “Buck, Buck, Moose” and “Hook, Line, and Supper” for more in-depth guidance. Happy cooking and tight lines!