The Best Recipes for Trout, Walleye, Salmon and Catfish

This is OL's guide to cooking the best fish you've ever tasted. For recipes, we turned to three top chefs who are also avid anglers. We then called on our friends at Saveur (who assisted with our "Perfect Venison" feature in the December/January issue) to bring the recipes to life. But the only way to fully enjoy these recipes is to make them yourself. So next time you're on the water, put a fish or two on ice. Then go home and try one of these savory dishes. It's a wonderful way to celebrate one of the outdoors' greatest gifts. VIDEO
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Roasted Striped Bass with Corn Relish
(serves 4)
2 Tbs. peanut oil
4 1-inch-thick, center-cut striped bass fillets (about 6 oz. each), skin on
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3-4 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Coarse sea salt Directions
1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until it slides easily across the pan. Dry the fillets thoroughly with paper towels, season them with Kosher salt and pepper on both sides, and then add them, skin-side down, to the skillet. 2. Reduce the heat (the oil should sizzle, not sputter) and cook the fillets until the skins are crisp, about 3 minutes. Turn the fillets and gently brown the other side, about 3 minutes more. 3. Add the butter and thyme. Continue cooking the fillets, turning them once or twice (so they brown evenly) and basting with the lightly browning butter. Cook until the fish is opaque, about 4 minutes. Serve at once drizzled with the browned butter and sprinkled with coarse sea salt. Chef's note: Any firm-fleshed fish (halibut, cod, snapper, salmon, grouper) may be substituted. Just make sure the fillets are about 1-inch thick, or adjust the cooking time accordingly.
Barbecued Salmon Steaks
(serves 4)
4 small or 2 large sweet potatoes
1⁄4 cup brown sugar
1⁄2 tsp. nutmeg
4 8- to 10-oz. salmon steaks
1⁄2 cup olive oil
1⁄2 cup butter, softened
1 cup barbecue sauce of choice
4 lemon wedges Directions
1. Wash and cut sweet potatoes into 1⁄2-inch-thick rounds. Boil in salted water for 10 minutes. Drain water and let potatoes steam off. Keep refrigerated until needed. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and nutmeg. 2. Heat grill to medium-hot. Brush fish steaks and sweet potato slices with olive oil. Place fish and sweet potatoes on grill and cook for 3 minutes. Turn to make crisscross marks. Let cook 3 minutes more. Turn over. Brush tops of steaks with softened butter. Sprinkle with brown sugar mixture. Top with barbecue sauce. Shut lid and cook 3 to 4 minutes. When fish is medium-rare, place fish steaks and sweet potatoes on a platter. Serve with lemon wedges. Chef's Tip: If desired, mashed sweet potatoes can be made after removing potato rounds from grill. Place potatoes in a bowl with 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon cream. Mash and serve under steaks.
Grilled Whole Trout with Basil, Tomato and Avocado
(Serves 4)
4 whole trout (deboned)
Salt and pepper
8 large sprigs of fresh basil
2 lemons, sliced and halved
Extra-virgin olive oil
Butcher's twine Directions
1. Season the cavity of each trout with salt and pepper. Coarsely chop four sprigs of basil (stem and all). Place an equal amount into each cavity and top with lemon slices. Tie the trout so that the cavity is held closed with the butcher's twine. Hold in refrigerator until 1 hour before you are ready to cook. 2. Start the grill. When the coals are ready, clean the grill grate carefully. Oil the grate. Season the outside of the trout with salt and pepper. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Place trout on grill and cook for 5 minutes on each side. Be careful not to burn.
Walleye Casino with Peppers and Onion
(serves 4)
2 Tbs. butter
4 8- to 10-oz. walleye fillets
1⁄2 cup seasoned cake flour
1 Tbs. olive oil
1⁄2 cup red bell pepper, diced
1⁄2 cup green bell pepper, diced
1⁄2 cup green onion, sliced 1⁄4-inch thick
1 Tbs. capers, drained
1⁄2 cup cooked bacon, chopped
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 whole lemon, cut into 4 wedges Directions
1. In a large frying pan, heat butter to a fast bubble. Dredge fish fillets in seasoned cake flour and shake off any excess. Place fish in butter and fry until golden brown. Gently turn fish, reduce heat and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more. 2. While fish are cooking, heat olive oil in a medium frying pan. Add peppers and green onion. Saute for 1 minute. Add capers, cooked bacon and Worcestershire sauce. Combine gently. Remove cooked fish fillets and place on a warm serving platter. Top fish fillets with casino mixture and serve with lemon wedges. Chef's Tip: This recipe is an excellent choice for any kind of fish fillets or steaks.
Tempura-Fried Whole Catfish
(serves 4)
4 2-lb. whole catfish (bone in)
2 cups flour
2 cups cornstarch
2 Tbs. baking powder
2 Tbs. salt
2 Tbs. black pepper
2 cups cold soda water
1⁄2 gallon peanut oil
1 large heavy-bottom pot
Oil thermometer
1 pair of long-handled tongs Directions
1. Rinse catfish, pat dry and
season the cavity and outside of catfish with salt and pepper. Hold in refrigerator until
ready to fry. 2. Mix together all the dry ingredients. Whisk in the soda water and hold in refrigerator until ready to fry. 3. Heat peanut oil to 360 degrees. Coat catfish in tempura batter and slowly slide into the oil using tongs. Fry only two catfish at a time. Cook for approximately 5 minutes. Remove from oil and place on a draining rack or on paper towels.
CARE FOR YOUR CATCH
After each day of fishing New Jersey's Barnegat Bay with his grandfather, a teenage Tom Colicchio was tasked with taking care of the day's catch. His training served him well. To this day, the host of Bravo's Top Chef remains meticulous about the fish he catches and the care he takes with it, whether it's prepared for guests at one of his richly acclaimed restaurants or for family and friends at home. Here are his tips. Boating Fish
"Treat a fish that you intend to eat with care. A fish's flesh is very delicate. Don't throw it around the boat and don't hold it by the tail or you risk ripping the flesh and beating up the fillet." Boxing Fish
"Don't ever leave fish lying on the deck of the boat. Bleed it right away and ice it immediately. If you catch a tuna, lay it in the fish box on its belly, just like it swims. Tuna is very soft." Freezing Fish
"Don't do it. Take what you want for a meal or two and that's it. Freezing fish is just a bad idea." Cooking Fish
"Go simple. Grilling is good. No fancy sauces, and never overcook fish. Use butter, herbs, salt and pepper, and don't cook with acids like lemon. Add lemon after the fish is done."

OL shares the tastiest recipes for trout, salmon, walleye, striped bass and catfish.