How to Cook a Shore Lunch with a Tinfoil Oven

Illustration by Drew Friedman

Store-bought reflector ovens work wonders, but they're a little tricky to fit into a fishing vest. All it really takes to turn this morning's fresh catch into a memorable shore meal is a pocketknife and a 3-foot-long strip of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Reflector oven cooking is fast, because you don't wait for glowing coals. It's easy, because you can dress up a trout with whatever herb or spice is at hand. It's tasty, because your fish is hot and smoky. And best of all, cleanup is as simple as wadding up the foil.

(1) Spread out a sheet of heavy-duty tinfoil 3 feet long. Cut three straight green sticks about 21 inches long, and another two Y-shaped sticks about 20 inches long. Gather two dry, fist-size stones.

(2) Wrap each end of the aluminum foil around a straight stick, rolling the two a few times toward the middle of the foil like a scroll. Two inches of stick should extend beyond the foil on each side. Fold the sheet into an L shape at a point about one-third of its length.

(3) To build the oven, face the L toward the fire. Place the third straight green stick along the fold of the oven, and anchor each end with a stone. Drive the Y-shaped sticks into the ground to hold the top of the oven up. Adjust the slant of the oven's upper wall to direct heat downward as necessary.

(4) Build a hot fire with flames reaching at least to the top of the foil. You want a tall fire to reflect heat downward from the upper wall of foil.

(5) Line the cooking shelf with olive oil, butter, or margarine, a few slices of onion, and your fresh fish. Top with the seasoning of your choice. Keep the flames tall, flip the fish once, and cook till the flesh flakes with a fork.