Rocket stove Ice Fish and Chips

October 29, 2011
By Sketch Editors

Nothing beats catching your food and cooking it up right then and there but this recipe will work as well in the backyard as the backwoods.  Excellent crunchy golden batter, crispy two-stage french fries, and a very effective homemade rocket-stove makes it all portable.  The taste is well worth the effort.   Plan your dessert ahead– frying a couple apple fritters to have with ice cream, fried before the fish hits the oil, tops a night to remember.

The rocket stove has a couple advantages over a home stove or camp fire: it heats very quickly, burns cleanly with little smoke, and is responsive: the temperature adjusts easily by adding fuel or covering the air inlet. It can be made from recycled cans in about an hour or two.  It’s one of the most exciting cooking tools and virtually free to make.

We learned about the stove from Aprovecho , an NGO that teaches people to make them in the developing world where air quality and fuel availability are significant concerns. The best part is the stove is portable and great for cooking while camping.  Since it uses metered amounts of small wood you can find fuel almost anywhere and you don’t need tools to prepare the wood.  The basic idea is throwing a log on a fire can consume as much as 60% of the energy just to get it to the point of combustion, a giant heat sink on the embers, whereas small amounts of kindling continuously fed burns quickly with less smoldering and less smoke.

Ice Fish and Chips

for 3

Fish:1 and ½ lbs fresh fish fillets cut into 1½ inch by 4 to 6 inch long strips
1 liter bottle good quality frying oil
500g duck fat
½ cup organic gluten free flour
½ cup organic all purpose flour
1/8 cup rice flour
¼ cup organic cornmeal
1 tsp sea salt
1 pinch of fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp corn or potato starch
½ cup organic milk
1 open bottle of beer

Slotted spoon
Fry thermometer
paper towels

Rocket Stove
2 large juice or coffee can
3 small soup cans
12 self tapping 3/4 inch sheet metal screws
tin snips


kiln wool for insulating between large and small cans,

Or light gravel such as perlite or vermiculite

drill and bit for starting holes

The design is simple: small cans stacked two high make the chimney (3), plus one at the bottom at a right angle makes the stove mouth and combustion chamber.  A lid folded and inserted in the mouth makes the shelf that allows fuel to be added with out obstructing the air flow (5).  Then, two large cans serve as a cover: one vertical to house the chimney, one horizontal to house the mouth or inlet (6).  You can improvise the stove or follow the steps here.

1 Open all cans with a can opener, except the bottom of one small can- that will be the bottom of the stove combustion chamber. Use the can you are fitting to the second as a guide for cutting
the holes, trace with a marker. Cut with snips, top and bottom such that the can end ‘saddles’ the other (1). Join them at right angles, toward the bottom of the vertical can, resulting in the ‘boot’ shape, a 90 degree or elbow tube.
2 Cut a fringe of tabs around the parts you wish to join, bend them out at right angles to the can.
3 Join the cans with self tapping screws.
4 Cut a hole in the bottom of a cheap pot and screw that to the stove. Throw in a metal ‘x’ to lift your fry pot of the burner, and to allow airflow. The whole top acts as a wind guard.
5 Fold down the 2 edges of the scrap lids down at a  width equal to the opening of the stove mouth.  Insert in mouth and screw in. This is a fuel/air shelf. Leave 1/3 space below for air.
6 Finally attach the second layer-can on the mouth. The second layer can be stuffed with kiln wool for extra efficiency.
7 Use small pieces of hardwood and feed the stove slowly and continuously, once it heats up. (see inset photo). Burn it out with no food to lose the plastic liners inside the cans.

The stove heats quickly so use a thermometer to be safe.  Overheated oil is potentially explosive, especially around an open flame.  Be certain your pot is deep enough it wont overflow into the fire.

Throw a burner top from a gas stove or a metal ‘x’ into the top pot to make a stand off between the shield and the cooking pot.


Make the fries first since you’ll cook them twice. The cooked fish can wait the 4 minutes you have to re-fry the potatoes.

Tweaking the mix

Fish : We went fresh water ice-fishing for perch but lake trout, whitefish, and saltwater haddock and halibut are all good. Light flesh fish will all work.  Check OceanWise and for good seafood selecting tips.   Go local when you can.

Batter: Gluten makes for tougher and soggier batter once fried. Starch crisps up but pure starch is dangerous in a fryer, popping hot oil into the air. Get the best of both using high starch, low gluten flours. Milk in batter browns faster than water or beer, so use more for small pieces, less for large as they spend more time in the fryer. Playing around with the ratios will lead you to your favourite batter.

Oil: A bottle of high temperature oil like canola, sunflower, grape seed mixed with 500g of duck fat makes for killer flavour and crispy outside, steamy insides.  Frying: Ride it high for fish and chips, from 375f to 400f but watch for smoke.  Tools: Use a deep pot as to lessen risk of deep fryer fire, lay your filets in the oil calmly and you’ll have less hot splashes. A deep fry thermometer is handy or drop batter bits in to test.

Getting Started


Chop potatoes into fries of your favourite size. Pat dry. Fry in several batches at lower temperature of 350f for about 4 minutes or until light gold and starting to get limp.

Remove, drain, and set aside.

Just before ready to eat, heat oil hotter to 375-400f and fry again for several minutes until your favourite colour of fry.


Mix the dry ingredients, set aside Beat egg white to soft peak.

Set aside Mix the yolk, milk with dry batter, not over stirring.

Add a little beer, till right coating consistency – not too runny.

Fold in egg whites carefully so as to not pop the bubbles.

Dip and fry your freshly caught filets, 4 to 6 minutes or until golden brown.

Drain on paper towels.  Finish cooking the fries and serve!

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