Got a freezer full of walleye and don’t know what to do with it other than fry it?
Try this Northwoods Minestrone recipe, and if soup isn’t your thing, there is the Walleye Florentine Flatbread.
When Dale and Denise Niese spend time at their cabin in northern Ontario, Canada, they eat a lot of fish.
Dale Niese came up with these two recipes to break up the monotony.
“I cook a lot of fish in Canada, we have fish every day,” he said.
He and friends have a cabin on Lake Wabatongushi, about 200 miles north of Sault Saint Marie, nine hours from their home in Northwood, then a 30-minute ride across the lake.
These recipes are fast and easy and don’t keep him off the lake, Niese said.
They eat walleye every day, but there is a limit on four walleye in your possession at any time. So if he catches four and eats four, he can fish for four the next day. They also can only bring home four per person.
“I don’t eat fish for a month when we get back,” Denise Niese said.
“I appreciate they do have limits up there,” he said.
After getting sick of eating the same fish recipes every night, he started expanding the menu to include this soup and flatbread.
Niese said he was hoping to their second home five times this year, but coronavirus put a stop to those plans when Canada closed the border.
“We do have a very good fishing lake and can catch all the fish that we need,” he said.
When he got the fish out of the freezer for these recipes, he noted there was still a lot left.
Niese also grills bacon-wrapped walleye fillets and makes a grilled fish Caesar salad plus another walleye soup using coconut milk and curry. Walleye Benedict also is in his repertoire.
“The recipe is a half-an-hour meal,” he said about the soup.
He uses canned ingredients such as whole tomatoes, kidney beans and even frozen green beans.
“If you really want to make it special, you can use fresh produce … but again, canned works just as well.”
This time, Niese used northern pike, but any mild whitefish will do.
He adds fresh green peppers and green onions as well as garlic powder, cayenne and Italian seasoning.
The flatbread is a trip staple; it can be kept warm on the wood burner.
Niese buys the premade dough and bakes the spinach into chips. He first bakes or smokes the fish then blackens it.
It’s the perfect recipe if you want to make Chicken Florentine, he said.
Niese said that the first time he had blackened fish was when the couple was in Virginia Beach years ago. They have been married for 38 years.
“I didn’t really like it because the spices were a quarter-of-an-inch thick,” he recalled.
He scales back greatly when seasoning the fish for the flatbread.
Still, the heat, while not apparent on the first bite, can creep up on you.
“These are nice because you don’t deplete your supply of fish like you would with a fish fry,” Niese said about these recipes.
They are also fast and easy – both requirements for cooking up north, he added.
“It doesn’t take your time away from fishing.”
A year ago, he had friends get married on the lake and the Nieses volunteered to cater the wedding. He made eight different fish dishes, including this flatbread.
“It’s pretty easy. Just throw it on the grill and heat it up and people basically picked it off the grill.”
A dish that has intrigued him is a lobster, macaroni and asiago cheese recipe.
“It tasted pretty good, can we do that,” he asked himself after trying it at a Penta Career Center function.
He calls it Poor Man’s Lobster and uses northern pike, boiling it in 7-Up. The sweetness of the soda makes it taste like lobster, Niese said.
“I lobster-ized my northern pike and added the asiago and macaroni and cheese.”
He makes them in little muffin tins and has improved on the dish each time he makes it.
“It was right the first time since we’re using fish,” Niese said with a laugh, “but it’s getting better and better all the time.”
His mom did the cooking for the family, which included six children.
“Generally we didn’t stick around,” he recalled about his siblings vacating the kitchen.
“He’s a wonderful baker and makes the best cheesecake,” Denise Niese said, adding that his Almond Joy cheesecake is her favorite.
He started making cheesecakes around 10 years ago, after finding a website called Recipe Goldmine. It had maybe 500 cheesecakes, including margarita and white truffle, which he has made.
“I specialize in my walleye menu,” Niese said.
While the Canadian cabin is not rustic, it is fairly isolated. It doesn’t have electricity. They use a generator and have a propane hot water tank to heat the water pulled from the lake.
Niese said he has never fished for walleye on the Maumee River and only a couple times on Lake Erie.
He thinks fish has a better taste when caught up north.