Pickerel, which is more commonly known as walleye in the United States, is a white, freshwater fish that is found throughout the world in rivers and lakes. There are different types of pickerel, varying in color and size, but they are all a fairly lean fish. While pickerel can be steamed, grilled, poached and even baked in the oven, its versatility also makes it ideal for pan frying, which can enhance its flavor and moist texture.
Ask your fishmonger for the freshest pickerel. Check to make sure that it does not smell fishy or like ammonia. Touch its flesh to make sure it is firm. In many cases with fish, you can also check to see if the eyes are cloudy. However, pickerel have naturally cloudy eyes, so this test won’t help you tell if the fish is fresh. Once you select a fresh fish, ask your fishmonger to butcher it into fillets for you.
Set up two large, shallow bowls. In one, pour 1/2 cup of milk. In the other bowl, combine whatever coating you want on your fish. Typical coatings for frying are flour seasoned with salt and pepper, bread or panko bread crumbs and corn meal. You should add approximately 1/2 cup of coating to the bowl. The measurement for the milk and crumbs can be increased or decreased depending on how many pickerel fillets you will fry.
Add two tablespoons of vegetable oil to a heavy skillet and bring the temperature to medium-high.
Dip the fish into the milk and then directly into the coating. Once coated, carefully place the pickerel into the hot skillet. Repeat with the second fillet. You can cook more than two fillets at a time, provided that you have room in your pan.
Turn the fish over after three minutes and cook for an additional three minutes on the other side.
Transfer the fish after a total of six minutes to a cooking tray or a plate covered with a paper towel to drain excess oil for a minute or two.
Serve the fish immediately with any garnishes that suit your taste, such as a fresh lemon wedge.
Jessica Jewell is a writer, photographer and communications consultant who began writing professionally in 2005. Her chapbook, "Slap Leather," is forthcoming from dancing girl press. Her recent work has appeared in "Nimrod," "Harpur Palate," "Copper Nickel," "Rhino," "wicked alice," "Poetry Midwest" and "Barn Owl Review." Jewell was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She earned her Master of Fine Arts from Kent State University.
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