The land of 10,000 lakes is stocked with a lot of freshwater meals, if you're able to set a hook in one.
Use the audio player above to hear his interview with All Things Considered host Tom Crann, and continue below for a recipe from Amdahl's book.
Midwestern fisherman's stew
Every fishing culture throughout the world has its own variation on a fisherman's stew. These stews often reflect the rustic nature of the lives of those dedicated to their profession while also offering a unique insight into the region. With this dish, I tried to create a version that reflects the Midwest using bright yet bold flavors and a selection of common fish. Across the globe, each variation of fisherman's stew is designed to use whatever the fisherman brought home that day--and this dish is very much the same. Feel free to use whatever fish is on hand, but try to incorporate at least three varieties to help round out the overall flavor.
Serves at least 4
8 ounces cleaned smelt
8 ounces whitefish fillets
(walleye, sunfish, crappie)
8 ounces trout (or freshwater salmon) fillets
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1 cup white wine
2 (15-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
2 cups fish (or chicken) stock
1 tablespoon red chile flakes
1/4 cup chopped dill
1/4 cup chopped tarragon
Pinch saffron (4-6 threads)
Drizzle fish with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Working in batches, place smelt and fillets on a grill pan over high heat and quickly brown, about 1 to 2 minutes per side. Remove from heat and set aside.
Add 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large saucepan over medium-high heat. After the butter has melted, add onions, carrots, and celery and cook until the vegetables begin to soften. Season with salt. Stir in the vinegar and cook until almost completely reduced; stir in white wine and reduce by at least half. Reduce heat to medium and stir in tomatoes, stock, and chile flakes. Simmer until the mixture starts to reduce, about 15 minutes.
Cut fish into about 1-inch pieces. Stir fresh herbs and fish into the stew and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked through and incorporated into the stock. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
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