You caught 'em, now how to cook them? Favorites from the pros

Morning's catch
Postcard showing "Our morning's catch at Mille Lacs Lake," c. 1925.
Courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society

Those who make their living plying the waters of Lake Mille Lacs eat a lot of fish. It's fresh. It's plentiful, and it's good prepared in a lot of ways. Here are a few recipes favored by Mille Lacs fishing professionals.

More on this story:
Walleye limit on a 'crown jewel' lake sparks outcry
Millions of tiny fish, millions of dollars: A fish stocking FAQ
• You caught 'em. Now, how to cook them? Pro tips

The "buy a box" approach

Terry McQuoid, owner of McQuoid's Inn and Guide Service, is a traditionalist. He's been fishing Mille Lacs for 40 years and in that time hasn't found anything better than a deep-fried walleye fillet.

His favorite recipe goes like this: Drive to the store. Buy a box of Shore Lunch fish batter. Follow the directions on the box.

"Make a few tater tots with it and shoot, that's a nice meal," he said.

The no-frills floured fish

Terry Thurmer, owner of Terry's Boat Harbor, uses such a basic recipe, it's almost not a recipe. He fillets the walleye, washes the meat, rolls it in flour and fries it. No egg wash, no seasonings, he just likes the fish.

The buttery, steamy foil packet technique

Rick Bruesewitz, Aitkin area DNR fisheries supervisor, also likes his fish deep-fried, but when he pulls a good-sized northern pike from Mille Lacs, he prefers the grill and tinfoil approach. First he fillets the fish and does his best to extract all the bones. Then he lays the meat out on tinfoil and layers it in salt, pepper, a few pads of butter per fillet, onions and lemon slices.

All wrapped up and tossed on a medium hot grill, he said the foil packet produces a steaming and buttering effect. "I use enough butter," he said.

The classic beer-battered fry-up

DNR fisheries program consultant Neil Vanderbosch spends his days perfecting the state's fish stocking program. He's seen DNR employees squeeze eggs from spawning fish. It's not pretty, but the man still enjoys his beer-battered walleye.

Vanderbosch mixes an egg, some flour and about half a can of beer. He doesn't measure anything -- unlike walleye hatching, beer batter isn't an exact science.

"It can't be too thin and it can't be too thick," he said.

Once the slurry is just thick enough to stick to walleye, Vanderbosch dunks in each fillet and fries them in hot oil.

More: Instructions on fish frying from a cooking professional, courtesy the DNR.

• The Splendid Table also has several more fish-cooking techniques to try, including pan-smoking, salt-roasting and cornmeal-crusting.

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