The walleye is a freshwater fish native to Canada and the Northern United States. This tasty fish is also called Walleye Pike and Yellow Walleye. It gets its name from its eyes which can see in turbid deep waters. It is a white, tender, mild-tasting fish that is sought out by sportsmen and commercial fisheries in the Great Lakes. Perfectly prepared walleye is easy. Our tips on how to prepare walleye can be applied to any firm fish that can be fried.
First – Pick a Perfect Walleye That’s Fresh
The first step to preparing perfect walleye is selecting fresh fish. The fish should not smell “fishy” nor feel slimy. The flesh should be firm but not dried out. We choose whole fillets with the skin on. It’s been our experience that getting just over 3 lbs. of fillets will feed up to 10 people.
Bay Port Fish Company has been our family’s go-to fish market for three generations. When packing your fish for the trip home, ask them to double bag it with a bit of ice around your sealed bag of fillets. Walleye is expensive and you want to keep it iced down as much as possible. When you get home to take the ice bag off and place the fish into your refrigerator meat tray.
#1 Preparing Walleye Fillets
Our next step is to take off the skin and clean the fillets to only offer pure meat. With a sharp knife, cut down to the skin about three inches from the tail and cut back to the tail. Cut off any grey fat. This renders your first “chunk” of pure fish. Place the chunk into a bowl of milk or buttermilk.
It’s been said that soaking fish fillets in milk will help to “sweeten” the flesh. We think there is some truth to that. Soaking the chunks for a few minutes as you finish cleaning and preparing can help make it taste milder and the milk will help the coating stick to the fish.
#2 Sort Your Chunks of Walleye by Thickness
A key technique that is sometimes missed is to sort your fish chunks by size prior to cooking. Sort by the thickness and cook them together. This ensures that you have perfectly cooked fish every time.
#3 Use Canola Oil for Walleye Deep Frying
While there is much debate among cooks, we found that using Canola oil has rendered exceptional results. Canola has a high smoke point of about 467 °F. Much higher than even our deep fryers can reach. A high smoke point ensures that the oil won’t break down at high heat. Thus it’s perfect for deep-frying fish. As you can see from the pictures, the oil will darken after a few uses. This is OK as long as there is little or no coating “sludge” in the oil from prior frying. Some folks will strain or filter the oil after each use.
#4 Frying Perfect Walleye
If its a nice day, place your fryers outside. This will keep the oil mist from being in the kitchen and its a comfortable way to cook hot food in the summer.
A key tip on how to cook walleye is having hot oil. Heat oil in a deep fryer to 375 °F. At this point sprinkle your favorite fry coating mix into a small bowl. Grab equal-sized chunks and lightly coat each piece. When the oil gets to temperature, place equal thickness size chunks into the hot oil piece by piece. Use a timer to cook the thick chunks for four minutes and the thin tailpieces for three minutes.
#5 Serving up Fried Walleye
Once your timer is up, pick up the fryer basket and gently shake the oil off. Place the cooked fish on paper towels season with salt and pepper to taste and serve your perfectly prepared Walleye immediately.
Our Perfectly Prepared Walleye Dinner Menu
- Fresh Walleye from Bay Port Fish Company
- Sweet Corn from Empkie’s Farm Market in Port Austin
- Fresh Tomatoes from Port Austin Farm Market
- Potato Salad
- Homemade Pie and Ice Cream
We hope you found this post on how to cook walleye informative and appreciate your ideas and tips.
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