Northern Pike with Almost Burnt Cream


There are very few things I enjoy more than catching a nice big Northern Pike. They are one of the most aggressive fish we have in Minnesota and when you get into a big one it is a shitload of fun. Most people I have talked to agree and like to catch Northerns, but most people don't like to eat them. Northern have an interesting bone structure and unless you are really good with a knife or willing to learn there are a lot of bones. As far as texture and flavor go I put the northern right up there with Minnesota's beloved walleye. Still there are many people who won't eat them.

One of the techniques I have learned for filleting a pike is the five fillet method. If you do it right you will end up with 5 boneless fillets, I take it one step further and make six fillets. In the picture above you can see how I cut down the back bone and remove the top, or the back loins of the fish. down the middle of that piece is a row of bones that can be removed by making a v cut on either side of the bones. Then when you skin it you have a perfect boneless fillet. What I like to do is split that piece in half and then portion it into fish stick sized pieces. For whatever reason the kids like the fish stick but are less enthusiastic about the fillets.

Fishing is one of my great passions in life and fortunately for me so is cooking. I am always trying to find new ways to cook and eat the fish I catch. I watch a lot of cooking shows and get a lot of ideas of things to try from them. Recently I was watching season 3 of Mind of a Chef featuring Magnus Nilsson. In one of the episodes he cooks king crab in a very simple style with just a brush of butter and seared in a very hot, dry pan. At the same time he pours heavy cream into another dry hot pan and cooks it until it almost burns. The result is a very sweet reduced heavy cream that by itself could almost be part of a dessert. As I watched it over and over I began to wonder if it would be a technique that I could use on some of the fish I have.

Only because of the similarity in size and shape did I think about these pieces of Northern Pike I have from that back section. I decided to give them a try and cook them in a similar fashion to Chef Nilsson's Crab. I went back and watched the episode again just to make sure I didn't miss anything and sure enough I had missed one part. After the crab was taken out of the pan and right before plating he sprayed it with a mist of vinegar. The show wasn't specific about what type of vinegar so I used a chive vinegar that I had made.

Very simply take a 1 pint mason jar and fill it with chive blossoms. Then cover with white vinegar and let sit for a week. This vinegar is awesome on salads or fries or anything else you use vinegar for.

So, to put it together you will need 2 nonstick pans, 1/2 cup heavy cream, butter, salt, vinegar and of course the pike portions. Dry the fish and give it a small pinch of salt, then brush with butter and bring your pans to Medium high heat. Place the fish in the pan and begin to sear on all sides. This cooking process goes very quickly so it pays to have everything set up and ready to go. Start heating the second pan at the same time as the fish and get it nice and hot. Then just pour in the cream and let it go, don't touch it. The cream should reduce and begin to turn color this will go very quickly as well so keep and eye on it. This picture above is what mine looked like in the pan . I went just about 30 seconds to long. If the cream and oil separate you have gone to far.

When the fish is done remove it from the pan and set it on a cutting board spray it with a fine mist of vinegar and then move it to the plate and serve it with a dollop of cream. Each bite of fish should have a little cream on it. Now, I know you have heard people say that they have a method for cooking whatever fish so that it tastes just like lobster. I'm not going to say that. But, if you try this and don't think it is the best piece of northern pike you have ever eaten, I would seriously be shocked.