Fish Boil – A Wisconsin Tradition
I have a suspicion that if you mention “fish boil” anywhere in the United States, except Wisconsin, you will see some odd expressions, but the traditional Door County Fish Boil is wildly popular in this northern Wisconsin vacation destination. The main ingredient – thick steaks of delicate, freshly caught whitefish from the surrounding waters of Lake Michigan – make dinner an occasion for many a visitor. This is especially true when the fish is prepared in a huge black kettle amidst a fiery blaze. When a member of the Boil Over Crew sounds the dinner bell, it is the signal for the “boil over” and that is the signal that it will soon be time to eat.
For the uninitiated, a fish boil begins with a kettle of hot salted water perched atop a wood fire. The boil master drops one steel basket of potatoes and onions into the boiling water, and a second basket of fresh whitefish goes into the steaming cauldron a few minutes later. When everything is nearly ready, kerosene is added to the fire and a huge flame erupts, causing the water to boil over the top. Hence, a “boil over.” The hot flames cause the water to boil over the sides of the kettle, removing fish oil that has collected on the surface during the cooking process.
As you can see in the photo, the crew then lifts the baskets from the heat, lets the water drain, and the ingredients are presented to the hungry crowd with a generous drizzle of butter and hearty slices of bread. And to make the event an even grander foodie experience, the meal is finished off with a slice of Door County cherry pie.