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Gastronomically yours,

Kibbeling Walleye

This weekend is perfect for embracing winter and celebrating all it has to offer and what better way to do it than to enjoy an Ontario Family Fishing Event like the one hosted by Ontario Anglers and Hunters Association on Chemong Lake as the provincial government offers a province-wide opportunity to go fish without the mandatory licence outdoors card.

I have been ice fishing only a few times in my life and that was more than enough for me. Family and friends of mine habitually go ice fishing. Me? I’m happy to stay at home with my fillet knife ready to prepare dinner.

My favorite fresh water fish to prepare is walleye. Yes I said walleye. It is at this point that people take it upon themselves to correct me with “You mean Pickerel!” with which I reply “No, I mean walleye.”  My response is typically followed by an awkward silence, and then I usually get accused of being an American; which I defend proudly as being a Canadian.

Generations have handed down this tradition of calling walleye wrongly pickerel. Walleye are related to the perch family and pickerel are related to pike. The difference in identification can be seen in the dorsal fins. Walleye and perch have two dorsal fins and members of the pike-pickerel family have one.

The name walleye comes from the way the fish’s eyes reflect light like those of a cats. This is the result of a light catching layer of tissue in the eyes. This genetic adaptation allows the fish to see well in the low-light conditions found in deeper waters where walleye escape from the warm waters of summer. Walleye are also nocturnal feeders so their eyes are designed to assist with their night vision.

Genetically, walleyes vary greatly depending on their watershed due to the fact that the species has been artificially propagated for over a century. The resulting farmed fish has been introduced to existing populations or simply introduced into ecosystems that never held walleye before.

Walleye tastes great compared to other North American fishes as I find some of them to be overly swampy in flavor. Locally we have an abundant supply of walleye swimming in many of our lakes and can easily be harvested through the ice now or wait until summer.

As mentioned I’m not much into ice fishing which is why the following recipe comes to you from the Dutch Virgin Islands and has been adapted for use with Kawartha Walleye instead of Caribbean white fish. This tasty snack food is available at local food stalls and food trucks throughout the islands.

 

Kibbeling: Deep Fried Battered Fish Pieces

Ingredients:

2 lbs walleye cleaned and cut into bite size pieces

1 cup flour

1 cup milk

¼ cup beer

2 eggs

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

Lime and lemon wedges

Oil for deep frying

Method:

In a medium size mixing bowl whisk together the flour milk, beer, eggs, salt and pepper. Preheat your deep fryer to 170-180C. Pat the pieces of dry with paper towel. Using a fork dip the fish in the batter and coat it on both sides. , stir around gently. Carefully transfer the fish pieces one by one into the hot oil. Do not use a fryer basket as it is better to free float the fish. Don’t overcrowd the fryer; this will drop the temperature of the oil too much, causing the batter to be soggy instead of crisp.

Turn the pieces of fish while they are frying to allow them to cook evenly. When the pieces are golden brown, scoop them out with a slotted spoon and let them rest on a paper towel lined plate to remove excess oil.

Serve immediately with the lemons and limes, fried chips, mayonnaise and some hot pepper sauce.

 

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