Although ocean-dwellers such as salmon, haddock and tuna seem to generate the most buzz on restaurant menus, freshwater fish such as the lesser-known pickerel can be equally delicious and nutritious. Pickerel, which belongs to the same family as pike, is a very bony fish with flaky, white flesh that adapts well to a variety of flavor pairings and preparation methods. One of the easiest ways to cook pickerel is to bake fillets in the oven, which frees you up to work on other elements of your meal.
Buy pickerel that has already been filleted or prepared by your fishmonger. Alternatively, if you're cooking up freshly caught pickerel, clean and fillet the fish before removing the Y bones.
Remove the Y bones located in the center of the fillet by slicing through the pickerel's flesh along one edge of the bones, cutting the flesh away from the Y bones. You'll be left with two long, boneless fillets.
Preheat your oven temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, lightly grease a baking dish with cooking oil, cooking spray or butter.
Place the fillets in the dish and season them. Your seasoning can be as simple as salt and black pepper, or you can use any combination of herbs and seasonings that you like. For example, pickerel pairs well with flavors such as butter, cream, lemon, sage, bay leaf and white wine.
Bake the fish for roughly 15 minutes, or until the flesh is opaque and flakes when you test it with a fork.
Items you will need
- Sharp knife
- Baking dish
- Cooking oil, cooking spray or butter
- Seasonings such as salt and pepper
- Reserve the bony parts of the fish. Even though you don't want to eat them, you can use them to make fish stock. To make stock, simmer the fish tails, heads and bony parts with seasonings such as cumin, basil, bay leaves, onion, garlic parsley and water. Let the mixture simmer until the liquid reduces by roughly half. Strain the mixture and set it aside to use as stock.
- The Freshwater Fish Cookbook; A.D. Livingston
- How to Cook Fish; Olive Green
- Seafood; C.J. Jackson, Editor-in-Chief
- Backwoods Sportsman OutDoors: Freshwater Fish Recipes
- Canadian Living: 10 Pleasing Pickerel Recipes
- Preparing Fish and Wild Game; Editors of Creative Publishing
- The L.L. Bean Game & Fish Cookbook; Angus Cameron and Judith Jones
- Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images