Saturday, May 5, 2012

Walleye Salad

It's just a fact of life.  If you live in the upper midwest, you  probably love Walleye Pike.  (If you live elsewhere, you maybe don't know from Walleye.)  We travel to northern lakes to fish for them, we serve them at many, many restaurants, and we currently sell them fresh in the grocery store for $18 a pound or so. (Yikes.)  We cut them into "fingers" for starters, fry them up with mountains of fries served up with two cups of mayonnaise coleslaw for mains, nestle them into a bun for a Minnesota fish burger,  and occasionally place them somewhat uncomfortably on a bed of greens.

To make that Walleye feel right at home (because, after all, it loves being cooked up in a big pot of fat), while I do lightly layer the fish with fresh, crispy salad ingredients, I also add a bit of my own version of tartar sauce to the side and throw in a dill pickle for grins.  A wedge of cabbage serves for a nod  toward the cole slaw and adds an extra crunch.   While an exact recipe is a bit difficult (I just make salad), I offer an approximation.  And only because if I do find a Walleye salad on a menu, it's typically a-- wait for it-- Walleye Caesar.   Remember, "Eat local?"  We do.  And, because you won't know, Minnesotans fish for Walleye in the winter, too, because they can be caught through a hole in the ice.  Try this:

alyce's walleye salad

  • 1 8 oz (approx) Walleye filet (or Lake Superior white fish)
  • Flour, salt, pepper, and cayenne
  • 3T olive oil, divided (some to cook the fish and some for the salad)
  • 3 cups mixed salad greens
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 6 cherry tomatoes
  • 2t minced red onion or scallions
  • Several large shreds of cabbage
  • 1/2 large dill pickle
  • 3-4 olives (your choice)
  • 2T grated Wisconsin cheddar
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

For Tartar Sauce:  Mix together well 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 1/4t Dijon-style mustard, 1/2 t minced onion, 1 tsp minced dill pickle, 1-2 drops hot sauce (I like Tabasco) and salt/pepper to taste.


  1. Sprinkle fish filet with a little flour  (perhaps a teaspoon total) on both sides and dust well with kosher salt, a nice dose of freshly ground pepper, and a tiny pinch of ground cayenne pepper.  (I like to cook just barely room temperature fish that has been blotted with towels to remove excess moisture, but be quite careful with fish as it goes bad very quickly.)
  2. Heat 2T oil in a small, heavy skillet.  Gently place fish filet into hot oil.  Let cook 3 minutes or so until crispy and golden brown.  Turn and cook on the other side another 3 minutes or until crispy brown and the fish flakes if you shred a bit with a fork.  Don't overcook. 
  3. While Walleye cooks, prepare salad (mix the greens, carrots, onion and tomatoes) in a large shallow bowl (I like a pasta bowl.) and squeeze a little lemon juice over the greens.  Dust with salt and pepper.  Mix up tartar sauce.
  4. When fish is done, lay it on top of the salad.  Sprinkle with shredded cheese.  Add cabbage, dill pickle, olives, and a dollop of tartar sauce at the side of the bowl or plate.  Squeeze the rest of the lemon juice over all and then drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.  Serve while fish is hot.

Have fun cooking and taking care of yourself,

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