While ocean fish live up to their “fishy” descriptor, that salty, briny taste is avoided with freshwater fish. What makes the difference for freshwater fish is cooking method. Some are most tasty when grilled, while others can be fancied up for the oven. And who doesn’t like a good old-fashioned backyard fish fry? Some fish are better for the deep fryer, while others are tastier when pan fried in a skillet. Here are some examples by species.
Rainbow trout – Before gasping at the thought of keeping a trout in the name of catch-and-release, there are many states where stocking programs are meant for catch and cook. Trout are delicious when baked in a foil-wrapped packet, which seals in the juices. Take a fillet, skin left on, and sprinkle lightly with olive oil. Add a sliced lemon, sprigs of fresh parsley and dill and seal the foil. Bake at 400 degrees for about 10-15 minutes.
Walleye – If you have never been treated to a shore lunch of freshly caught walleye, then you should put this on your culinary bucket list. The typical method involves using a dry batter to coat the fillets, then dropping them into a large skillet with oil heated over an open fire. At home, you can lightly dredge the fillets in flour, shake off the excess, and cook in a large cast iron skillet. Add a couple tablespoons of canola oil, a tablespoon of butter and cook over medium high heat.
Panfish – Bluegill and crappie are the most popular candidates for frying and are best cooked outdoors in a deep fryer. Make a wash using a small bowl filled with milk and one beaten egg. Dip the fillets in the wash, then add to a resealable bag with a cup or so of dry mix. Remove the fillets, shake off the excess and fry until golden brown. This recipe also works for French fries or vegetables.
Uncle Bucks Fish Batter Mix
Salmon – The nutrient-rich pink skin is a delicacy when charcoal grilled, and it doesn’t take much effort. Here’s a prep tip for salmon and most any other elongated fish you intend to grill—leave the skin on! Doing so prevents the filet from falling apart. Add a pat of butter, drizzle olive oil and cook skin side down. You can add fresh herbs of your choice, along with salt and pepper to taste.
So, what are you waiting for? Now is the time to eat local. Make the catch of the day fish caught from your favorite lake.