I grew up fishing on Leech Lake in north-central Minnesota. My grandmother would fillet all the perch or rock bass I caught, and we would fry them in a saltine breading and eat them with Hellman’s tartar sauce. FI remember a couple of times in my life having fish baked or grilled, but for the most part it was always fried.
A couple of years ago I decided to branch out a little bit and try something new. First I tried making fish cakes with walleye. They turned out great, so I started looking at other recipes. I think that I was stuck in the mindset that fish out of Minnesota weren’t versatile enough to use in other recipes. I didn’t know a lot about what fish could be substituted for others, or how to use fresh water fish in place of saltwater fish. As it turns out, I was overthinking the whole thing. All I needed to do was experiment .
I read a recipe by Magnus Nilsson for a pike-perch with horseradish butter, and after a little research, found out that pike-perch are basically a version of walleye. After that, I started looking at fish recipes differently, and substituted whatever fish I had on hand. I made a wonderful fried crappie spring roll, for instance (the original recipe called for shrimp but the crappies worked equally well).
I was watching TV one day and saw Chef Eric Ripert preparing a halibut curry with tropical fried rice. He said any firm white fish would work, and I immediately thought about walleye. The walleye worked really well, and I was really quite surprised at how well fish and curry go together. The other great thing about this recipe is the fried rice. With each bite you take you get a different piece of fruit mixed with the curry, and it is amazing. This recipe should work with any freshwater fish.
Walleye Curry with Tropical Fried Rice
For the sauce:
1 shallot, roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 thumb-sized knob of ginger, sliced
1 stalk lemongrass, sliced
1 tsp hot curry powder
1 tablespoon red curry paste
½ cup chicken stock
1 ½ cups coconut milk
2 tablespoons coconut oil
Melt the oil in a pan over medium heat and add the shallot, garlic ginger, and lemongrass. Cook for 3–4 minutes. Add the curry powder and the curry paste, and stir for 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock and simmer for 3-4 minutes, then stir in the coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and simmer for 5-6 minutes. Pour the sauce through a mesh sieve to remove all the chunks and make a smooth sauce. Return the sauce to a pan, and keep on low to keep warm while preparing the rice and fish.
For the Rice:
1 ½ cups white rice
2 cups water
½ cup coconut milk
½ cup diced apple
½ cup diced pineapple
¼ cup golden raisins
¼ cup slivered almonds
¼ cup diced banana
¼ cup coconut oil
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
Place the rice, water, and coconut milk in a pan with a lid, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 15 minutes until liquid is absorbed and rice in tender. Pour the rice out on a cookie sheet to cool.
When you’re ready to put it all together, salt your walleye fillets and melt the coconut oil over medium heat. Fry the fillets in the coconut oil for about 2 minutes on each side. Remove the fish and set aside. Into the hot oil add the cooked rice, all the fruits, and the almonds. Stir in the cilantro and cook for 3-4 minutes.
To serve, spoon a bed of rice onto a plate and top with a fillet of walleye. Generously spoon the curry sauce over the walleye and the rice, and garnish with fresh cilantro.