By Nick Simonson
While the simple, golden sizzle of battered walleye fillets in a pan or a deep fryer is a hallmark of summer, there are other ways to highlight the texture and mild flavor of the Midwest’s favorite species to angle for. If you put a few golden fish in the livewell and on the cleaning board this weekend, you’ve got something to look forward to, and some thinking to do too on how to cook them up – beyond the basics. Here are a couple great recipes that go beyond just a dip in Shore Lunch. Try them out and expand your plating skills this summer!
In Gilbert, Minn. there’s an out-of-place Jamaican restaurant called the Whistling Bird that made even the coldest night in January on the Iron Range feel like a Caribbean vacation. It was tough to choose between the dozens of delicious entrees, but when the almond-crusted walleye was the nightly special, it made the decision much easier. While a few tries to recreate the dinner missed the mark – this option has come the closest to the secret recipe located somewhere just off of Highway 53 about an hour north of Duluth.
Almond Crusted Walleye
1 slice whole wheat bread, dried
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 cup egg whites
4 walleye fillets
1 tablespoon butter, melted
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 15×10-inch baking pan with foil. Spray with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. In food processor grind bread into fine crumbs or use knife to finely chop. In shallow bowl combine ground bread, almond slices, cheese, basil and seasoned salt; mix well. In a second shallow bowl place egg whites. Dip each walleye fillet in egg whites and then coat with bread mixture; patting mixture over fillet to fully coat. Add a few extra almond slices on the fillets for appearance.
Place coated fillets on prepared baking pan. Drizzle coating with melted butter. Bake, uncovered, 12 to 14 minutes or until fish flakes easily with fork.
Every group of fishing friends has a camp chef, and mine is no different. Our circle relies on that one guy who can crank out deer, fish and upland game dishes like nobody’s business and they taste restaurant-quality every time. His signature recipe for a couple of summers was this walleye topper from the late, great Tony Dean. Served over pasta, this will help with those cold days of fishing and leave everyone full and satisfied!
4 walleye filets
1 cup olive oil
1/4 pound butter
One sliced onion
Salt and pepper to taste
One cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and arrange the filets in a glass baking dish. Add sliced onions, the milder the better. Place several tabs of cold butter on top of each filet. Sprinkle heavily with freshly grated parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper as desired. Bake uncovered for about 25 minutes, or until cheese begins to brown. Remove fillets from the olive oil and butter, drain and serve. Optionally, one can drizzle the drained oil and butter mixture over a little rotini and serve the fillet on top of the pasta.
Give these recipes a try this summer and add your own, to go beyond the basic batters and set the table with something new from the Midwest’s favorite fish.
Featured Photo: Walleye! It’s What’s For Dinner! Try out these new recipes to get the most from the region’s favorite fish and maybe find a new favorite way to prepare walleye. Simonson Photo.