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The Bend Magazine

Skillet-Fried Sunfish with Campfire Biscuits, Skewered Okra, and Fire Roasted Corn

03/19/2021 10:35AM ● By Kayla Butts

By: Kayla & Justin Butts  Photos by: Rachel Benavides

Of all the beautiful meals you prepare for your family, the ones they remember best are cooked over a campfire.

Cooking over a fire is the oldest and most interesting way to prepare a meal. Unfortunately, too many home chefs lack confidence in their camp cooking prowess, so they compromise with hot dogs and other processed junk food at the campsite.

But, with a little advanced preparation, you can serve gourmet meals deep in the wilderness. Best of all, everyone in the family, no matter how big or small, will have fun helping. This camp meal is designed to get the whole family involved.

If you want your children to love their camp dinner, let them catch the main course. We featured the humble sunfish in this recipe, because they are so

easy for the little ones to catch. You can find sunfish in streams, rivers, lakes, and in the pounding waves of the Gulf, so no matter where you pitch your tent, even the smallest angler will be proud to bring you a fish.

We love this simple, reliable, and versatile skillet-fried fish recipe. We have cooked whole rainbow trout many times with this recipe next to a mountain stream. If your taste is for bigger game fish,
cut them down into pan-size filets. We have used this recipe for salmon, steelhead, redfish, and even shark steaks, depending on whether the campsite was at altitude or down at sea level.

These campfire biscuits are the crowning achievement of this meal. They are so delicious and so easy to make, you may go camping again just for the biscuits! Mix the dry ingredients in a zip lock bag at home and simply add water and a little oil at the campsite, then put your biscuits on for a short bake to perfection.

We first roasted okra over a fire while trekking in the Himalayas. You will not believe how much okra your kids will eat if you let them roast it with their own sticks (to be used later for marshmallows, of course). A light application of oil helps the okra achieve a golden, crisp exterior.

To roast the corn, simply ring it around the fire still in its protective husk. The corn will cook while you prepare the rest of the meal and be steamy and hot when you are ready for it. You will never camp without fresh corn again.

With these simple recipes, your kids will catch the main course, help cook the meal, and have a lot
of fun in the process. This is a family dinner your children will remember for a long time to come.

Skillet-Fried Sunfish

Serves 4

Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook time: 15-20 minutes


3 tbsp canola oil

4 whole fish, gutted and scaled (perch, trout, etc.)

1 medium onion, sliced 1 red bell pepper, sliced 1 lemon, sliced
6 sprigs fresh dill

Salt and pepper

Directions: Place a 12” skillet on larger support logs bordering your established campfire. Add oil to skillet and heat for 1-2 minutes. Distribute fish, pepper, and onion on preheated skillet. Place one lemon slice on each fish, along with sprigs of dill. Cook for 5-7 minutes on each side. Remove from skillet and squeeze fresh lemon on each fish. Serve with sautéed onions and peppers.

Campfire Biscuits

Serves 4

Prep Time: 7 minutes Cook Time: 12 minutes


2 cups all-purpose flour 1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

1⁄2 cup canola oil

1⁄2 cup water or milk 


Place cast iron skillet on an open fire whose coals or wood has turned to ash.

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add oil and water (or milk), and stir until combined, taking care not to overmix. Divide dough into four, and flatten each piece into a 1/2” disk.

Place biscuit dough on preheated skillet and cook for six minutes. Flip biscuits and cook for another 6 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm. 

Skewered Okra

Serves 4

Prep time: 3 minutes Cook time: 20 minutes


1 lb fresh okra Canola oil
Salt and pepper


Drizzle okra with oil and season with salt and pepper. Prepare a sturdy stick by removing the smaller twigs near the end. In the thickest part of each okra, skewer with prepared stick. Roast okra over the fire for ten minutes on each side, or until okra begins to turn golden brown and is heated through.

Fire-Roasted Corn

Serves 4

Cook Time: 30 minutes


4 fresh cobs of corn with husk on Salt and Pepper


Place corn at the edge of the campfire. Roast corn 15 minutes. Rotate corn and continue to roast for 15 additional minutes. Season with salt and pepper.