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Gourmet camping trip food suggestions?

  • m

This is not a camping trip where typical camping fare will be eaten. It's a semi-annual gourmet food extravaganza where people bring food to impress. The goal is to bring food that can be carried in relatively easily, be cooked (or reheated) in an outdoor camping setting, and be phenominally tasty. Last year there was sushi (kind of cheating since one expectation is that food will actually be cooked on the trip), chicken tikka masala, ratatouille, thai spring rolls, lemon pancakes, and creme brulee. You haven't been camping until you've cooked your dessert with a blow torch.

Any suggestions for a dinner meal that would satisfy the above requirements?

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  1. Most or all of the greatest cuisines have had poor people who have had to cook under your "camping trip" conditions. Making traditional sushi at a campgound might be a bit difficult; but sukiyaki was suposedly a dish of poor farmers cooking their stuff on the back of a large hoe-like implement. Give me a Coleman two burner and I can give you the world.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

      Mr. Fujisaka:
      while i agree there is a lot of good food that doesnt require sous vide
      technology, a lot of "peasant food" uses a lot of fuel, which is often not an
      option, or would be politically incorrect in environmental terms [burning
      scrounged wood].

      like rice is not a good option typically for a high altitude *small* backpacking
      trip in the US. although might be ok for a good sized himalayan expedition
      with porters etc.

      for many years [and they may still do this] the uc berkeley hiking club did a gourmet
      trip which saw some impressive meals. especually given that was NOT car camping
      but backpacking. thai soups, desserts encased in dry ice, mimosas ...

      but it is true, car camping at low altitude with coolers, large propane tanks, the allclad
      cookware, bags of charcoal, easy waste disposal does allow for some impressive
      stuff to be served in beautiful places. in yosemite we've had roasted squash
      soup, lamb brochettes, frittatas with pancetta, fancy burgers on foccacia, kalbi etc.

      1. re: psb

        This IS the UC Berkeley hiking club gourmet trip that I'm planning for!! When did you go? What did you bring. Do you want to come this year?

        1. re: manga

          >This IS the UC Berkeley hiking club gourmet trip that I'm planning for!!
          hmm, small world.

          >When did you go? What did you bring. Do you want to come this year?
          er, let's just say i did my part carrying the car radiator and a giant coleman
          stove part of the way to wildcat ...

          anyway, appropos my other comment, on a trip like this, i think you have
          to factor in not having that much fuel and not having large coolers. also,
          a few of the CHAOS Gourmet Trips had a dress code ... dinner
          was semi-formal, so you also had to budget jacket and tie and spats
          and such into your pack weight [i carried ~60% of my body weight
          on some of the gourmet trips].

          BTW, you can procure either the marinated or naked kalbi
          at the KOREANA MARKET way down Telegraph @24th in oakland.
          [i assume you are somewhere around berkeley]. the kitchenware store
          that shares the parking lot with the KOREANA MKT would be a good
          place to get sealed containers for a trip like this.

          N.B.: the KOLEANA MKT doesnt have the best PANCHAN selection
          but you should be able to get some basic stuff.
          do any Oakland Korean Mkts have a good panchan bar? or is the
          nearest option KUKJE SUPER KOREAN MKT in Daly City?

          ok tnx.

        2. re: psb

          Mr psb, I grew up in Fresno and worked in Yosemite for a couple of summers and then for the Forest Service in the high Sierras. Along the way I was able to hike most of the Sierras with a single burner cartridge stove, cooking up a reasonable storm. The OP mentioned "in an outdoor camping situation" and did not seem to imply any backpacking. I assumed that a two burner would be appropriate. I did not advocate excessive car camping gear as you imply.

          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

            well i had better indian food at +15,000 feet in the himalaya than at
            any indian resto in sf, but we were running around with a pressure cooker
            and 5gal of kerosene ... but that kind of travel is typically not an option here.
            i was just suggesting there is a sharp dividing line in what is feasible
            "in the woods" depending on the fuel and refrigeration situation ...
            often that trumps the quality of the "kitchen".

      2. I like what Sam said about traditional cooking. Check out some *peasant food* traditions (the Hub and I argue over the term "peasant food," which he sees as derogatory and I see as exalted - make your own determination!). I can think of two that I have made and loved on an open campfire. One is paella, and the other boeuf bourginon on a traditional Dutch oven in the coals.

        1 Reply
        1. re: cayjohan

          I like the idea of using a Dutch oven. Any other thoughts or ideas that would be unusual and crowd pleasing?

        2. I'd cook a good or premium slab of meat (probably tri-tip), butterflied chickens or a whole salmon over a decent wood fire or mesquite. All of these have a lower failure rate but still come out great. Not necessarily gourmet in the high-prep sense but hard to beat the smoke aroma and flavor outdoors. I'd probably make sides that link up well, perhaps a mushroom rice, grill asparagus (earthy stuff) and finish with a cobbler or something fruit.

          Hey while I was typing this I looked over at the margin and saw this: http://www.chow.com/recipes/10851

          1. A great camping dish in our repetoire are ribs. We've parboiled and seasoned them, tucked them into freezer bags and then slow roasted them over the camp fire. Delicious. Alton Brown has a good recipe that we've tweaked a bit:


            We've used "farmer's style" ribs with this so we don't need to deal with bones while camping.

            In the morning, some faves are bagels toasted over the fire, rubbed with fresh garlic, topped with cheese, smoked salmon, capers and whatever else you want. Also porridge with fresh apple, raisons, banana and cream.

            1. DH's specialty, made on many a camping/cottage trip: grill meat of choice till done and slice into strips. In a large frying pan (on campstove or grill), saute onion, garlic, zucchini and/or summer squash, cumin, chipotle sauce (NOT a can of chipotle chiles, as someone substituted once!), some cilantro to taste, and a jar of nopalitos (cactus strips). Any veggies or spices you like can go into this. Add the meat when the veggies are done.

              Don't make it too soupy, as you serve it with (we prefer flour) tortillas and sour cream, shredded cheese, etc. It can either be rolled up into the tortilla or eaten with a fork, tortilla on the side.

              This inevitably gets raves.

              1. How about Korean Short Ribs BBQ (kalbi) Lettuce Wrap. It's traditional Korean food. You can marinade beef before you set out for camp (you can keep it overnight in an icebox) and some boston lettuce. Grill the meat on open fire or outdoor grill and make a little salad with julienned green onions and thinly slice sweet onions tossed in mixture of soy sauce, sugar (or honey), and sesame oil (if you want to improvise, julienned jicama or daikon will also go well). You can serve the dish by putting a piece of lettuce, then little salad then the bbq-ed short rib (without the bone of course). The diners can wrap it up and eat it in one bite. :) If you don't know how to make some of these, I can write up a simple recipe.

                Now that I think of it's similar to Sara N.'s dish from Top chef season 3, the BBQ challenge...except she made hers Vietnamese style with different cut of meat and different salad (vietnamese salad picked in a variation of nuoc cham I think).

                4 Replies
                1. re: baekster

                  Hey baekster,
                  This recipe has my attention! I'd love any suggestions. What do you think of wrapping it with Napa Cabbage? I have to admit that I've never cooked ribs, so any and all advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for so many great ideas.

                  1. re: manga

                    Sure, Napa can work as well. I just think that boston is easier to wrap; napa has thicker 'stem' which makes it harder to really wrap into bite-size. Korean BBQ ribs are not cooked like traditional BBQ ribs. First, it's short ribs (ask your butcher to cut the rib Korean BBQ style if he knows that or if he doesn't know the cut looks like this: http://www.grasslandbeef.com/catalog/...). It's the best if the butcher can slice the meat into about 1/4 inch slices (or you can do that at home)--should produce long thin strip. If the butcher can take out the bones and sell it, do that. If not, take out the bones at home and stocks later. :


                    Marinade Recipe (I usually follow this and make adjustment since some crowd likes it sweeter and some don't...so before you put the meat into the marinade taste to see):

                    -2 days before
                    Boil the following to boil and simmer for 10 mins to blend the flavor then sieve and cool the liquid.
                    4 cups of water
                    1/2 cup of soy sauce (not light)
                    1 green onion (coarsely chopped)
                    1/2 medium yellow onion (coarsely chopped)
                    3 garlic cloves (crushed and peeled)
                    1 tablespoon sugar
                    about a thumb size ginger root (peeled and coarsely chopped)
                    a pinch of ground pepper

                    -The night before or right before you go camping (for about 6-12 hour marinade)
                    Mix (adjust the portions for the amount of meat you're marinating)
                    4 Tablespoons of the cooled sauce you made above
                    4-5 Tablespoons of Pear Puree (use cheese grater) (about 1 pear)
                    2-3 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce
                    1 Tablespoon of Yellow Onion Puree (again, use grater)
                    1 Tablespoon of Mirin or Sake (Mirin will make slightly sweeter sauce)
                    1 teaspoon of sesame oil
                    a pinch of ground black pepper

                    NOTE: if you want really tender meat, use a 1/2 teaspoon of kiwi puree...some people like it really tender. But if you're not going to eat the meat for a while, I suggest not using the kiwi cause it'll break the meat down too much.
                    Julienned green onions
                    Julienned sweet onions
                    4 Tablespoons of the boiled-then-chilled sauce
                    Whisk in little bit of sesame oil to the sauce
                    Then toss salad

                    Thinly sliced or julienned jicama or daikon

                    Arrange as follows after you cook the meat: Cook the meat on direct fire until cooked through (the rib has a lot of marbled fat so it won't dry out)

                    Put the lettuce down on the bottom
                    Cut the bbqed meat into bite-size (for one strip, you should be able to make about 2-3 pieces),
                    Put the salad mixture on top
                    Put the jicama

                    Enjoy (I hope it was too complicated)

                    1. re: baekster

                      Thanks Baekster!
                      I'm going to try this. I'll let you know how it turns out. I think we'll do a few test batches at home, maybe trying various lettuce/wrapping options. This is tremendous help.

                      1. re: manga

                        I'm glad that I could help. I'm always happy when people try Korean food as an option. Let me know how it turns out.

                2. Cheese fondue course.


                  1. you might check out this cookbook...


                    i've been using it for years (i think it was published in the late '80s), and have been happy with many of the results. i've made at least half the recipes in it, and always get comments from neighboring camp sites as to how good our food smells (and tastes when there's enough to share). one of the things i really appreciate about it is that most of the cooking is done at home, and things are just assembled/reheated on site.

                    my most recent camping trip was to maine (acadia/mdi). i took chicken chili verde & southern-style corn bread, and red beans with andouille over rice. otherwise we ate out a lot due to our love of seafood, and the fact that it's hard to get at home.

                    here's a trick i use when packing the food. since most of the food is frozen for transport, i find a squarish storage container that packs well in my cooler (for instance, the cooler will snugly hold 10 of the containers in a singe layer). i line the container with a ziploc, then ladle the food into it. pop it in the freezer, and once frozen, remove the bag. then you can pack your cooler with frozen food cubes, but only have bags to deal with waste-wise.

                      1. My fave is from Campfire Cuisine Mmmm MMmmm good - Bananas Foster French Toast: http://www.gourmetsgonewild.com/recip...