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.
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.
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:
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
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.