FREDERICKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — What happens when you find people trained in the culinary arts who love to hunt, fish, and trap?
You get Elevated Wild!
That is the name Rachel Owen and Wade Truong have given their venture. They chronicle their fishing, hunting, trapping, and foraging successes, then take their harvests into the kitchen to develop dishes worthy of the finest restaurants.
“We both love to cook,” said Owen, who has years of food industry experience. “We both got into hunting and fishing through the lens of food.”
“We bought our first boat because we wanted to catch snakehead because we wanted to try it,” added Truong who is a self-trained chef. “We got into duck hunting because we wanted to eat ducks.”
That has led to the development of elevatedwild.com, the couple’s website where they share the recipes they have developed, as well as instructions on how to do a variety of other things associated with processing game, fish, and foraged foods like mushrooms.
“We get to try a lot of things I think people are hesitant to try,” said Truong.
But, it is their desire to share their discoveries like they did the day we went fishing on the Chesapeake Bay.
“We’re seeing a couple of marks right on the bottom. so I’m just jigging a spoon,” Owen said as we targeted bluefish and Spanish mackerel.
Both fish are plentiful in the Chesapeake, though not targeted as often as striped bass, red drum, and other gamefish species, in part because they are not considered to be in the same class when it comes to table fare. Truong says that is a mistake. He says people need to treat those fish better to get a better product. That means getting them on ice as soon as possible.
“The key to bluefish and to getting the most out of them is bleeding them and keeping them as cold as possible,” said Truong. “They’re very oily, and oily fish go rancid very quickly.”
Keeping those fish fresh, and eating them soon after harvesting them is vital. That is why Truong and Owen moved immediately to processing and preparing the fish within hours after getting off the water.
“You really have 24 to 36 hours for the best eating,” said Truong.
Which explains why the couple turned those bluefish into sashimi with lemon, soy, and ginger. It is a recipe that Truong and Owen had developed recently.
“It’s just like a very unique flavor and texture,” Truong said. “It’s unlike anything else we’ve had, there’s kind of like a silky richness to it. I’ve been catching bluefish all my life and that’s the best way I’ve found to eat it.”
“There’s a sweetness and complexity to it,” added Owen. “This has a very distinct kind of briny sweetness.”
Simplicity is another key. Truong and Owen prepared the mackerel by grilling it to crisp the skin, then serving it over squash sauced with ponzu.
“When you have ingredients that good and that fresh, you don’t need to do much of anything to them,” Truong said.
A passion for food and the outdoors has been the foundation for the couple’s relationship.
“We went to a Korean grocery store together, that was our first date,” said Owen laughing.
“It’s all through the lens of food,” added Truong. “Because we’re pretty adventurous, and because we’ve had so much exposure to different food, we get to try a lot of things people don’t think of trying.”
Owen and Truong enjoy sharing their passion and experience with others, and that gives them the desire to push others to expand their outdoors and food horizons.
“There are so many good experiences out there to be had,” said Truong.
“It started out as sharing recipes with people, and that’s what it still is at it’s core,” Owen said. “But it’s branched out to other avenues as well.”
The couple says as long as there is game to hunt and fish to catch, they will continue sharing their knowledge and experiences.
“The food aspect is what makes a lot of non-hunters curious about hunting or about fishing,” Owen continued. “So we’ve been able to branch out using food as our base, into doing mentored hunting, tutoring people on how to cook, how to butcher, how to hang a tree stand, how to scout; it’s kind of evolved into more of a holistic thing.”
Truong says by sharing what they know, he and Owen hope they can instill the same passion and love of the outdoors in others: “None of what we do is convenient or easy. None of them save us money. We do it because we love doing it.”