Don’t get me wrong. I’m not even close to being a health food nut. Never have been, and with my aversion to willpower, I probably never will be. But fortunately, for me, fresh fish is good for you. And I happen to love the taste of well-prepared fresh fish. Especially when it’s grilled. That probably explains why I’ve been trying for the last ten years to create my perfect fresh fish recipe. I think I’m getting pretty dang close. Now, if I could just figure out how to actually catch fish myself once in awhile!
Skunked (Sort Of)
For example, the fishing trip I had scheduled for last weekend. Originally we were set to fish out of a resort teeming with jumbo perch. My greedy plans involved coming home with a limit of fish that would allow me numerous attempts at preparing this recipe for blog pictures. WRONG! Slush issues on the ice at Leech Lake cancelled the reservation. No fish. No fillets.
Instead, we found a last-minute ice shanty for rent on Mille Lacs Lake near the town of Isle, Minnesota. Although the bite was a bit slow, we did manage to hook into more than a dozen walleyes over the course of the weekend. Unfortunately, the only fish that fell within the tight 21-inch to 23-inch slot limit was the very first one we caught. It was quickly prepared and devoured just hours after pulling it through the ice hole.
Tuesday morning the truck was packed and slowly driven off the enormous slab of frozen water. I was left floundering, my cooler fishless once again. As a result, this recipe would have to be completed either with store-bought fillets or using some summer brown trout still safely tucked in the freezer. Since this recipe works much better with panfish or walleyes than it does with trout, I made a pit stop at Cub Foods.
A Fish-Deprived Kid
But let’s back up a little farther. Spending my childhood in a home where my dad loved to fish but refused to eat his catch limited my chances to experience fish as an entrée. My mom rarely cooked the stuff, and when she did, it was always fried in an electric skillet. Usually with the scale-less skin still stuck to each sunfish fillet, providing an undeniable crunch with every bite.
As I got older, my family despised the smell of frying fish almost anywhere, even outside. Have you ever had three kids and a wife walking around pinching their noses closed as you tried to cook dinner? I have! As a result, I was forced to experiment with new techniques for cooking my catch of the day.
Even though a good, Shore Lunch-dipped fillet sizzlin’ in the Fry Daddy melts on your taste buds like no other, passing on this delicacy allows me to escape the family wrath. Eventually I found my way to the grill. Unfortunately, properly cooked fish gets flaky. Have you ever tried to flip a flaky fish on a grill with one-inch wide slots in the grate? Not pretty, yet pretty wasteful!
Continued trial and error finally led to the discovery of aluminum foil. When effectively sealed inside a tinfoil pouch, fish can be flipped as often as you wish … WITHOUT the loss of valuable body parts. So without further ado, here’s my recipe for easy, mess-free, nearly odor-free, foil-cooked grilled walleye (or sunfish, or crappies, or northern pike, or trout, or …)
“This Fish Recipe is SO EASY … If Meandering Mike and
Parker Flatly can pull it off, ANYONE can make it!”
Let’s Get Preppy!
Prep your meal by cutting up some small red potatoes (Blushing Belles from the Little Potato Company work great!) I like to slice them rather thin, cutting lengthwise to create small coin-shaped pieces. Wash a package of peeled baby carrots. Slicing these length-wise will help reduce cooking time. Dice up half of a fresh yellow onion. Also dice up 5 or 6 mini peppers (or substitute half of a green pepper, your choice.) If you like mushrooms, some fresh or canned mushrooms can also be added as an optional part of this recipe.
When the cutting is complete it’s time to tear off a piece of aluminum foil that is approximately 24 to 30 inches long. Give the foil a very healthy dose of non-stick spray (I like to use an extra virgin olive oil spray like Fratelli Mantova, but your standard Pam works great, too.)
Puttin’ It All Together
Time to start assembling dinner! Fill the middle of the foil with a layer of potatoes. Try to leave at least one fourth of the foil uncovered on each end. Next pile on a layer of carrots, then top off the concoction by sprinkling a mix of onions and peppers on the heap.
Shake a healthy portion of salt, pepper, Lawry’s seasoned salt and Mrs. Dash garlic and herb seasoning blend across the veggie pile. Don’t skimp on the seasonings, you’ve got a pretty big meal going here! Top the veggie mash-up off with about a half dozen pats of margarine to add more rich flavor and help prevent the veggies from drying out or burning during the grilling.
Last, but definitely not least, comes the walleye. Liberally sprinkle both sides of each fish fillet with some lemon pepper and a little garlic and herb seasoning. Place the fillets in their proper place as the king of the hill on the top of the tater/veggie mix.
Seal In the Flavor
Time to seal this thing up and fire up that grill! Fold each of the foil ends into the middle, making sure the ends overlap. Seal the sides by making a series of small, tight folds along each edge. Once that original piece of foil is completely sealed, tear off another foil piece about the same size as the first one. Flip the sealed package over, placing it facedown in the center of the new foil piece. Repeat the sealing process just as you did the first time. This double layer prevents the melted margarine and juices from leaking out during cooking. Preheat the grill to between 375 and 400 degrees and it’s show time.
Cook the foil packet on a closed grill for 10 minutes before flipping the packet. Cook for another 10 minutes and flip it again. Continue cooking for 5 more minutes on each side and the contents will be perfectly steamed. (That’s 30 minutes total cooking time for those of you that are counting.) If you prefer your potatoes and carrots a bit browned and crunchy, you’ll want to add a few more minutes on each side.
Slice the middle of the foil pouch and serve this complete meal piping hot. Mmmm, mmmm good! No mess on the grill. No smell in the air. Everybody’s happy.
Do you have a favorite recipe for cooking up your catch? We’d love to give it a try. Feel free to share it in the comments box below. And if you’re wondering where Meandering Mike and Parker Flatly are going to park themselves next, sign up for notifications by clicking on this link. We’ll send you an email as soon as their latest posts hit the Web.
Foil-Grilled Walleye Recipe Ingredients:
- Fresh walleye fillets (substitute any fish type)
- Bag of miniature potatoes, sliced
- Bag of peeled mini carrots
- ½ yellow onion, diced
- Mini peppers, diced (substitute ½ green pepper)
- Fresh/canned mushrooms (optional)
- Soft spread margarine, 6 pats
- Salt, pepper, lemon pepper, Mrs. Dash garlic and herb seasoning blend, Lawry’s seasoned salt (optional parmesan cheese)
- Aluminum foil
- Non-stick cooking spray