How to Pickle Pike

A simple recipe for making bite-sized snacks you can share on the ice all month long

Winter in the Northland doesn’t stop all outdoor activity. For a few hearty souls, the cold weather and thick ice on the lakes means it’s time to get out and enjoy some ice fishing either with rod and reel, a tip up, or with a spear.

an ice fisherman gigging pike
However you catch pike, save a few to snack on later.Jamie Carlson

This year I got back into spearfishing for northern pike. The northern is one of my favorite fish to catch and to eat. Spearing pike is a lot like hunting whitetails. There is a lot of time spent sitting around and a few minutes of heart pounding joy. But every now and then, you are rewarded with a big one that appears like a submarine out of nowhere.

giant pike on ice
Because pike are so long and meaty, it doesn’t take many fish to make a meal.Jamie Carlson

It doesn’t take many pike to make a meal, though some people don’t like to cook pike at all because of the many Y bones hidden in the fillets. Even though there are a couple of different filleting techniques for taking out the Y bones, some fishermen simply don’t like to mess around with it. That is why many folks like to pickle pike—the final result is delicious and the pickling process softens the bones to a state where you don’t even notice they are in the fillets. Here's how to do it:

Pickled Pike

Ingredients (makes 9 pints)

  • 1 1/2 cups kosher salt
  • 2 gallons of water
  • 3 pounds pike fillets cut into pieces as big or small as you would like
  • 7 1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Aquavit
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons allspice berries
  • 3 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 12 juniper berries
  • 1 tablespoon coriander
  • 10 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon pickling salt
  • Fresh dill
  • Sliced shallots
  • Lemon slices
  • Serrano chilies

Directions

Step 1
chopped up pike
The first step to making pickled pike is to fillet your fish and then cut the fillets into bite-sized chunks.Jamie Carlson
Step 2
pike in saltwater brine
Mix the kosher salt and water together to make a saltwater brine. Put the fish pieces into the brine and refrigerate for 48 hours.Jamie Carlson
Step 3
how to pickle pike
After the saltwater bath, drain the fish but don’t rinse them. Then mix the other gallon of water, white vinegar, Aquavit, sugar, yellow mustard seeds, allspice berries, peppercorns, bay leaves, juniper berries, coriander, cloves, and pickling salt in a pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, and let the pickling liquid cool to room temperature.Jamie Carlson
Step 4
pickled pike in a jar
In your sterilized pint jars, layer the fish pieces with the dill, shallots, lemon and chilies. How much you add is at your discretion. I like a lot of dill and shallots and a couple thin slices of lemon per pint. I don’t want the fish to be spicy but I do want a little flavor from the chilies so I only drop in 3 to 4 slices of chili per pint. Attach the lids and refrigerate for 2 to 3 days before eating. The pints will last for up to a month in your refrigerator.Jamie Carlson
Step 5
pickled pike on a cracker
Take the final product with you on your next ice fishing outing and serve it on with some crackers.Jamie Carlson
sushi made with pickled pike
For a Northern twist to your sushi, add pickled pike to your favorite roll.Jamie Carlson

For the "adventurous eaters" out there, you can use your pickled pike in other recipes. For example, my Minnesota Maki roll with pickled fish is a fun and interesting take on the standard maki roll.