This last week I learned some thing about myself. I found out that I am kind of a snob when it comes to cooking walleye. Being from Minnesota I have caught and eaten a lot of walleye. But I can count on one hand the number of ways I have cooked walleye. I have tried to use it in different ways, I made walleye cakes once, and there was a butter basted walleye that was pretty good but for the most part (99% of the time) I only ever cook walleye one way. The way my grandmother cooked it, rolled in flour, then egg wash and finally a saltine cracker breading and fried. It is the way I grew up eating it and it will always be my favorite way. Not because it is the best way but because it is the most familiar way. Also because it is the best way to use my favorite condiment, Hellman's Tartar Sauce.
So what is it that broke me out of my fried fish trance? I was reading the new issue of Saveur magazine and in it was an article by Magnus Nilsson. Along with the article was a recipe for Pike-perch which is a Scandinavian fish similar to a walleye. The recipe looked so amazing that I had to thaw out some walleye and give it a try. I cooked the walleye exactly as it was written in the recipe and not only was I blown away at how wonderful it was but my wife, who was very skeptical of all the horseradish, loved it. In the recipe it states to grate the horseradish and cook it in butter. This process takes all the heat out of the horseradish and makes it somewhat sweet. I was amazed at how good the walleye was. It was hands down the best walleye I have ever eaten. It made me wonder how many other ways I have blown off because I was to much of a snob to try something new.
Immediately after eating the walleye with horseradish I was sitting down watching a cooking show and Eric Ripert was cooking some kind of halibut with a coconut curry sauce. Chef Ripert stated that any firm white fish would work so back to the kitchen I went to try something similar. I had a couple pieces of walleye left over and had all the ingredients I needed so I started cooking. I had to make this recipe from memory of the show so I am sure this isn't exact but it was fantastic. Chef Ripert served his with a tropical fried rice but I was I to much of a hurry to make rice so I added some of the raisins that would have gone into the rice, into the sauce. The little bursts of sweetness in the sauce balanced out the heat from the curry and made this one of the best walleye recipes I have ever had.
My point through all of this is, never stop trying new things. Yes my grandmothers method of frying fish is one of my favorite recipes ever, that will never change. But when you get stuck on one thing you could miss out on something even better.
Walleye in a Coconut Curry Sauce
2 walleye fillets, Cut into 4 portions
1/2 on a medium onion roughly chopped
a 1 inch piece of ginger roughly chopped
3 cloves of garlic chopped
2 tablespoons of curry powder
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 can coconut milk
1/4 cup of golden raisins
juice of one lime
salt to taste
1. season the walleye fillets with salt and set aside while making the sauce.
2. heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat and then add the onion garlic and ginger. cook until the onions are translucent.
3. add the curry powder and stir to combine, cooking for 2-3 minutes more.
4. add the chicken stock and the coconut milk and simmer for 5 minutes
5. strain the sauce through a mesh sieve removing all the onions, garlic and ginger then return the sauce to the pan and add the lime juice and raisins and simmer until the sauce starts to thicken. taste for seasoning and add salt if needed.
6. Place the walleye fillets in the sauce and simmer for 2-3 minutes per side until cooked through.
7. serve the fillets with plenty of the curry sauce and some fresh cilantro.