Yes, I soaked the planks in beer.
We have a number of walleye in the freezer of different sizes, but I thought I would try the planks with the big 28″ one. I made a marinade with beer, but only marinated the fillets for an hour, because I didn’t want to significantly change the texture of the fish. It worked and they remained juicy and tender, with a slight taste of the cedar planks and a little smoke. I think you can tell which one we ate out of this bunch:
I would have used whatever beer was on hand, but it turned out that we have some Leinenkugel’s® Summer Shandy, which already has a lemon flavor. I added some lemon zest and juice, as well as some chives to the marinade, keeping it simple. The rest of the bottle of beer went into the soaking liquid, with water, to soak the cedar planks.
As you can see in the photo, I grilled some skewered zucchini over the coals while the fish were cooking. You can also see that using two planks in a kettle grill takes up a lot of space. I found that the two planks made it hard to keep the heat much above 300° and I would have preferred something around 375°-450°—next time, I’ll leave out the veggies and use some of the smaller fish. Still, it was pretty wonderful, juicy and tender.
Beer-Planked Lake Erie Walleye
- 1/2 cup beer
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup chopped chives
- 1 tablespoon coarse salt
- 1 teaspoon coarse-ground black pepper
Pour marinade over fillets in shallow glass dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour. Remove from the refrigerator when setting up the grill, so they come to room temperature. It takes about an hour for charcoal to be ready, but a gas grill would be much quicker.
Soaking the planks: Soak planks for at least an hour in a shallow dish with the remaining beer from the bottle and enough water to cover. Put something heavy on the planks to submerge them, like a big jar of peanut butter.
- Set up charcoal grill with two zones—direct and indirect.
- When the coals are covered in white ash, place the planks (I needed two for my large fish) over the direct heat and close the lid until they begin to char and smoke.
- Flip them over and place on the indirect side. Place the marinated fillets on the charred side and close the lid. Cook for about 12-15 minutes or until the flesh is white and flaky. Cooking time depends on the size (thickness) of your fillets. Even though mine were long, they were not too thick, plus I cut each fillet in half to fit on the planks better.
Dragged out the deep fryer and mixed up some more 2-ingredient beer batter. Did that last year with perch, but I suspect people are still afraid of the simplicity of this batter, which I originally ran across for onion rings. I’ve never seen it on the web, so it must have been passed on in a handwritten note or by word of mouth. After all, there’s not much to write down—equal amounts of beer and flour. That’s where people get nervous about things like salt or cornstarch or baking powder or OMG an egg. But as I’m sure I said before, we’re not making pancakes here. We want a light crispy coating, much like tempura. I think I’ll throw in a few onions for garnish on the sandwiches. It’s been a long time since I made the onion rings. A long time.
Today’s beer is some kind of Octoberfest, which I think means the beer is stronger or malty. I know it’s making the batter a little orange-yellow, and I’ll be interested to see what it does to the flavor. The batter itself, even after it sits for hours, is thick and I would say glutinous or viscous; it kind of sheets off your foods, although it works best with onion rings. With fish, just dry them off before immersing in the batter.
I thought hard about using one of my cast iron pieces for the frying (skillet or Dutch oven), using either the stovetop or grill, but in the house, that’s such a mess with the splattering, and I’m concerned about not having good heat control on the grill. Nothing worse that trying to fry in oil that won’t hold its temperature and getting soggy, oil soaked fish. Besides, I’ve got the huge electric deep fryer that works like a charm. It’s just a shame to use a gallon of oil for one meal. I will not re-use oil used for frying fish, unless you bring me more fish tomorrow.
Oh, mercy, if there were ever a day when I could eat another sandwich….
Beer and flour
Frying some thin onion rings
Lake Erie Fried Walleye and Onion Rings
The batter has to sit on the counter for 3 hours, so factor that into the total time. Increase amounts based on your ingredients.
Simple Beer Batter
equal amounts of beer and all-purpose flour—I used 1 1/2 cups of each
- Combine the beer and flour, cover bowl, and let sit on kitchen counter for 3 hours.
Frying Fish and Onion Rings
1 1/2 lbs walleye, skinned and boned, cut in 4-5″ lengths for sandwiches
2 small onions, sliced very thin and separated into rings
salt, for seasoning after frying
- Set up your deep fryer or heat oil in a large Dutch oven to 375°
- If frying both fish and onion rings, do the onions first, so they don’t take on any fishy taste.
- Slice onions to your desired thickness—I just wanted a small amount of very thin rings.
- I took about 2/3 cup of the batter and mixed it with my onion rings. If you’re only making the rings, you could just put all the batter in with them.
- When the oil is ready, drop the rings in, using a long fork, trying to keep them as separate as possible.
- I covered my fryer and cooked them until browned.
- Remove the onion rings to a rack over a sheet pan and place in a 200° oven while making the rest.
- Dredge fish pieces in batter and cook a few at a time so they are not crowded in the fryer or pan. I put a small piece of non-stick foil on the bottom of my frying basket to keep the batter from sticking. Fry until browned. Walleye are thick, so each piece took at least 5 minutes to be done. Smaller fish are done more quickly.
- Remove fish to draining rack with onion rings and keep in oven until all the fish is fried.
Remember to salt the onion rings and fish as they come out of the fryer. We ate the fish in sandwiches with coleslaw and onion rings on the side.
My husband used to go out on Lake Erie and furnish us with lots of walleye every year, but he got tired of that type of fishing (trolling) and mostly of cleaning fish. Luckily, we still have a friend who gives us a few each year, and I’m ready for them with a collection of good walleye recipes. Another thing about my husband is that he doesn’t like the taste of fish, although walleye are very mild, so I found a number of recipes that distract him from the main ingredient. Of them all, he likes fish cakes the best.
This recipe is a version of Martha Stewart’s Codfish Cakes, but I use walleye and parsley instead of cod and tarragon, and my hot sauce is Huy Fong© Vietnamese Chili Garlic Sauce. Stewart’s recipe is online, but I found it first in the paperback What To Have For Dinner (1995), a useful book that organizes meals by season. The Codfish Cakes are in the spring section.
Cut fish in large chunks
Pulse to chop
Just a few ingredients
Shape patties and coat in breadcrumbs
Brown for 10 minutes
Peas are essential
Lake Erie Walleye Cakes
Although I made 4 inch patties, they would be great in a smaller appetizer size—just more browning time.
Preheat oven to 200°; it’s a good idea to keep the finished cakes warm while browning the rest.
- 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lbs walleye, cut into chunks then pulsed to a small dice
- 1 onion, minced, cooked in olive oil until translucent
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon Huy Fong© Vietnamese Chili Garlic Sauce
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- Olive oil for sweating onions and browning cakes
- 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs—I used Progresso™ Garlic Herb Bread Crumbs
- Saute the minced onion in about 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat until translucent, but not browned. Set aside to cool.
- Cut skinned and boned fish into large chunks, then pulse in a food processor to a small dice, without turning into a paste. Note: we cut out any red muscle in fish, which has an unpleasantly strong taste.
- Mix fish with remaining ingredients, except bread crumbs—do not use bread crumbs as a binder, just for coating. Mixture will be soft and moist.
- Form fish mixture into 4 inch patties no more than 1/2 inch thick. Wetting your hands will make the mixture a little easier to work with. Coat each cake with breadcrumbs and set aside until all are made. The cakes will still be soft and will not stand up to a lot of handling, so just plan to be careful. They will hold together on cooking.
- Heat 2-4 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-low heat until hot. Lift cakes with a spatula and place in skillet, about 3-4 depending on the size of your pan.
- Cook for about 5 minutes on each side. Remove to ovenproof plate in warm oven.
- Add more oil, if necessary, and brown the rest of the cakes.
These would be great with a colorful vegetable slaw, but we had macaroni salad and peas.