Beall’s fishy business makes for fantastic fillets


I first met Dave Beall at a Chamber of Commerce meeting about eight years ago. When I overheard him discussing fish and how he prepares it, I angled my way into the conversation. It was obvious that this guy knew what he was talking about.

Special to the Coastal Point • Marie Cook: Dave Beall prepares to cut up some fresh ingredients for one of his recipes.Special to the Coastal Point • Marie Cook: Dave Beall prepares to cut up some fresh ingredients for one of his recipes.I tried to lure him, hook him, reel him in to be highlighted in my column, but at the time, he was working for another newspaper and felt it would be a conflict of interest. I asked him to contact me when he was free to share delicious fish recipes with us. I know it’s a cliché, but good things do come to those who wait.

About six years ago, Dave started brainstorming ways to increase his income as he looked toward retirement. He thought, “Since I’ve been fishing all of my life, and I’m really good at it, it made perfect sense to stick with what I knew best.” He laughed and said that a guy walked up to him in a parking lot after reading the Delmarva Fishing School sign on the back of his truck and asked, “How did your wife let you get away with that?”

“Get away with what?” replied Dave.

“You created a business and call fishing a job. Smart move.”

Dave grew up in southern Maryland and fished several rivers — the Patuxent, Potomac and South River — as well as the Chesapeake Bay. He moved to this area about 23 years ago and learned about fishing in inlets and surf, first with natural bait and then advancing to artificial lures.

“I help interested anglers with different aspects of light-tackle sport-fishing,” he said, “from knots, rod, reel and line choice, lure selection, locations to target, the most productive time to fish, and what techniques to use.”

“At the age of 6, I began working in my dad’s restaurant in southern Maryland,” Dave said. “I washed pots and pans, and when I became the best pots and pans washer my dad had ever seen, he promoted me to dishwasher. I worked my way up through the ranks, and by the time I turned 18, I was the chef.”

Dave was privileged to train under Chef Cosmo, a White House chef who worked at his dad’s restaurant, as well as three other culinary school-trained chefs. He soaked up all the training and realized that there was no need to spend money to go to school. “Those great chefs taught me everything I needed to know,” he said.

Dave Beall is not a fishing-boat charter captain. He teaches people how to fish, either aboard your own boat or from shore. If you have never cast a line, or if you’ve been fishing for years, Dave will teach you how to perfect your craft. He offers complete fishing programs for beginners and intermediate anglers. He is a light-tackle sport-fishing instructor and charges $25 per hour (with a minimum of three hours of instruction). With more than 45 years of experience, he’s also a fishing guide who specializes in fishing training programs.

“Over the years,” he said, “my favorite method of fishing is light tackle with small rigged soft plastic baits, where I finesse the fish to bite. This method has been very successful for me and takes minimal physical exertion. I get a big kick out of tricking a fish into thinking that the little piece of plastic at the end of my line is something good to eat,” he added.

If you’re tired of collecting things that sit in your tackle box forever, you’ll thank Dave for teaching you about baits and tackle that work and about where to locate other hard-to-find products that will bring you success.

If you’re ready to increase your fishing skills, or tackle a new skill (I’m having fun with all these fishing metaphors!), Dave’s your guy. “Once you’ve completed our fishing course,” he said, “you’ll be equipped to consistently catch fish in most coastal locations.”

If this sounds like the plan for you — or perhaps a gift for someone in your life — contact Dave on his cell phone at (302) 841-3545 or call 1-888-256-2439. Also check out his website at www.delmarvafishingschool.com for more detailed information. Dave has included today’s recipes on the website and will be adding many more in the days to come.

The good news for you and me is that Dave cooks more than just fish. You’ve heard me say it many times before, but it always bears repeating: I am one lucky woman! When I went to Dave’s home to take his photo, I left with gifts of frozen flounder filets, flounder cakes and also a piece of Layered Eggplant Bake, along with hand-written instructions on how to prepare it. So, down the road, don’t be surprised to see another column on Dave Beall, highlighting the rest of his cooking story, sans fish!

When making Dave’s Flounder Cakes, if you don’t have any shrimp stock and don’t have time to make it, he suggests adding extra clam juice or water. You’ll be reserving the vegetables, as well as the stock, and both can be frozen for future use.

Dave’s Flounder Cakes

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Ingredients for stock:

• 1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped yellow onion

• 1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped celery

• 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot

• 2 cups water

• 2 cups chicken stock

• 1 cup clam juice

• 1 cup shrimp stock

Cook all ingredients in a stock pot until tender. Drain stock and reserve vegetables (separately) for a related recipe (such as Dave’s Flounder Chowder — recipe follows).

Method for Dave’s Flounder Cakes:

Pour the hot stock into a container and add 1 pound, 4 ounces, cubed flounder filet. Do not return the pot to the stove; the heat of the stock will cook the flounder. Allow stock and flounder cubes to rest until cool. Once cooled, drain the stock and reserve it for a related recipe — such as Dave’s Flounder Chowder — or freeze for later use.

Arrange cooked flounder on a greased 10-inch Pyrex plate. Dust with Old Bay seafood seasoning and bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes. Let cool.

Ingredients for flounder cake mixture:

• 1 jumbo egg

• 3 tablespoons heavy-duty mayonnaise (full fat)

• 1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard

• 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

• 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

• 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

• 1 teaspoon lemon juice

• 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

• 1/3 cup bread crumbs

• Old Bay seasoning to taste

Method for mixing flounder cakes:

In a large Pyrex mixing bowl, combine all ingredients; mix well. To this mixture, carefully fold in the cooled flounder. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Divide refrigerated mixture into four flounder cakes and bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes. Serve with your favorite sauce. Yield: 4 flounder cakes.

If you reserved the vegetables and the stock from Dave’s Flounder Cakes, you can use them to make his Flounder Chowder. The proportions of ingredients are exactly the same, so you’re saving lots of time. Dave does not like to waste a single morsel of the fish he catches, so he created this recipe in an effort to use as much of the flounder as possible.

“One day, when I was filleting flounder, I had quite a bit of trim left from around the outside of the filets. I froze the trim, and when I accumulated a full pound, I made chowder.”

Again, if you don’t have, or are not making, shrimp stock, increase the clam juice or use water. Plan ahead: One of the ingredients in Dave’s Chowder is 1.5 cups of 1-inch-cubed roasted red potatoes. He peels and cubes the potatoes and roasts them in a preheated 400-degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until well browned.

If Dave has shrimp and/or scallops on hand, he’ll often add them to make Seafood Chowder. For uniformity and presentation, cut the shrimp and/or scallops the same size as the pieces of flounder.

Dave’s Flounder Chowder

Ingredients:

• 1 pound flounder trim, cut into small pieces

• 1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped yellow onion

• 1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped celery

• 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot

• 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

• 2 cups water

• 2 cups chicken stock

• 1 cup clam juice

• 1 cup shrimp stock

Combine ingredients in a pot and cook on medium heat until vegetables are tender.

Ingredients for the rest of the chowder:

• 4 tablespoons salted butter (If using unsalted butter, you may need to add additional salt.)

• 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

• Optional: Additional salt to taste

• Black pepper to taste

• Old Bay seasoning to taste

• 1-1/2 cups roasted 1-inch cubes of red potatoes

• 1/4 cup heavy cream

• Optional: To make Seafood Chowder, add cooked shrimp and/or scallops

• 1/4 cup dry sherry, or to taste

• Oyster crackers to top the chowder

Method for Chowder:

Melt 4 tablespoons salted butter and add the flour to create a roux; simmer on low heat for about 5 minutes.

Combine the stock, veggies, roux and all the rest of the above ingredients (except oyster crackers) and simmer until hot, but do not boil. To serve, top with oyster crackers. Yield: 4 servings.

Panko-Fried Rockfish with Dave’s Creole Sauce

Ingredients:

• Rockfish

• Salt-and-pepper seasoned all-purpose flour

• Egg wash (egg mixed with a bit of water)

• 2 cups Panko bread crumbs

• 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

• Salt and pepper to taste

• 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

• 1/2 cup canola oil

Method for Panko Fried Rockfish:

Prepare rockfish by crosscutting large filets into smaller medallions. Trim and remove dark blood line from filet. Dredge moistened medallions in seasoned all-purpose flour and dip medallions in egg wash. In a 1-gallon zip-top bag, place Panko, cheese, salt and pepper to taste; add rockfish medallions; coat well and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

In a 10-inch skillet, heat the olive and canola oils until the tip of a wooden spoon handle foams when placed into the hot oil. The oil is now at the right temperature to cook the fish. Lightly brown each side of the medallions and place on paper towels to drain well. Serve with Creole Sauce (recipe follows).

When I arrived at Dave’s house to take his photo, a pot of Creole Sauce was simmering on the stove. I enjoyed taste-testing and look forward to making this sauce to serve with all kinds of fish.

Because this sauce freezes well, Dave always doubles the recipe. He freezes the batch in small containers so they are ready to pop out of the freezer when needed. He said that he reheats the sauce in the microwave, but I’m not a microwave kind of gal. I prefer to do things the old-fashioned way, so I’ll be simmering mine in a small pan on top of the stove. Dave is a spontaneous cook, so he often cooks some shrimp and tosses it into the Creole Sauce.

I plan to prepare a batch of Creole Sauce and serve it when I thaw and cook the Flounder Cakes Dave gave to me. But I also see the versatility of this sauce and plan to serve it with turkey cutlets or tenderloins, with grilled pork chops, or sautéed pork tenderloin medallions. And if I wasn’t allergic to chicken, I’d create uses for this sauce with chicken, too. Hmmmm! I think this sauce would also be tasty served over noodles or rice as a side dish.

Dave’s Creole Sauce

Ingredients:

• 2 large bay leaves

• 1 can (28 ounces) peeled plum tomatoes in juice (cut each tomato in half)

• 1 cup chopped celery (cut into 1/2-inch pieces)

• 1 cup chopped Vidalia onion (cut into 1/2-inch pieces)

• 1 cup chopped fresh green bell pepper

• 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce

• 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco Sauce

• 1/2 cup ham stock reserved from a baked ham or use Goya brand ham-flavored concentrate (Dave buys the Goya concentrate at Giant.)

• 1/2 cup tomato paste

• 1/8 cup crushed fresh garlic

• 1 teaspoon granulated sugar

• Salt and pepper to taste

Method for Dave’s Creole Sauce:

In a large pot, mix all ingredients and simmer over medium heat until vegetables are tender. Arrange cooked rockfish medallions on a dinner plate and top with sauce.

Dave’s advice when targeting bluefish is to have a cooler of ice ready for the fish. Put the bluefish into the cooler as soon as possible and cover the fish with ice. According to Dave, “Some people cut the fish next to each pectoral fin and at the end of the meat at the tail. I usually brine my bluefish meat with kosher salt after I have filleted and skinned it.”

Dave prefers a long, slow cook time for his Oven-Smoked Bluefish Filets. Plan ahead: The filets must marinate overnight before they go into the oven.

Dave’s Oven-Smoked Bluefish

Ingredients:

• 1 cup Kikkoman Teriyaki Sauce

• 1/4 cup Colgin Liquid Smoke — a natural mesquite flavor (Dave buys this brand at Giant grocery store.)

• 1/4 cup brown sugar

• 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

• 2 pounds bluefish filets

Method for Oven-Smoked Bluefish:

Combine all ingredients except bluefish in a large glass or plastic container and mix well. Add the bluefish filets and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees (yes, that’s correct — 200 degrees). While the oven is preheating, place the bluefish filets on a greased aluminum-foil-lined baking sheet. When the oven reaches the desired temperature, bake/smoke the bluefish for 1.5 hours (yes, that’s correct, too — 1.5 hours), or to desired doneness. The longer the fish bakes, the drier it becomes. You can reduce the heat even further and extend the cooking time to achieve a different texture.

Dave and Marina’s Clams Casino

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Ingredients:

• Shucked clams

• 1/4 cup finely minced celery

• 1/4 cup finely minced yellow onion

• 1/4 cup finely minced red bell pepper

• 1/8 cup minced fresh parsley

• 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

• 1/8 cup bread crumbs

• 1/8 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

• Partially cooked pieces of thick bacon

• Fresh lemon juice

Method for Clams Casino:

Cover a metal platter with a 1/2-inch of rock salt (ice cream salt) and arrange shucked clams on the platter, pressing the clam shell into the salt so the clams do not shift.

Mix celery, onion, bell pepper, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, bread crumbs and cheese. Spoon desired amount onto each clam and top each with a small piece of partially cooked thick bacon. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes, or until bacon is crisp. Squeeze fresh lemon on clams before serving.

Dave is such a nice guy that I know he won’t mind if I share a personal note at the end of his column.

I extend heartfelt gratitude to the kind readers who called and/or sent emails (even a couple snail mails) sending loving thoughts and prayers as I continue to heal from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Even more endearing were your comments about the beautiful woman I highlighted — Arline Simpson, volunteer and baker extraordinaire at the Tunnell Cancer Center where I had my treatments.

I write about food, and I’m passionate about cooking and about this column and all the wonderful people I’ve met who have shared their recipes. Several people told me that they don’t cook at all; they just enjoy reading my column to get to know their neighbors. Arline’s story, in particular, touched many hearts. She and her story touched my heart, too, and her recipes are now among my favorites — especially her to-die-for Almond Cake. Did I tell you that she gave me a whole cake to bring home? Shame on me for not sharing…

(Editor’s note: If you have recipes to share, or recipes you want, contact Marie Cook, Coastal Point, P.O. Box 1324, Ocean View, DE 19970; or by email at ChefMarieCook@gmail.com. Please include your phone number. Recipes in this column are not tested by the Coastal Point.)