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The Carletonian

Cooking With Carls: Minnesotan Walleye Sandwich

<ften outwardly directed attention for Cooking with Carls has led to exploration of different cuisines and food items, such as Egyptian falafels and American artisan cheese. In comparison, I admit that little attention was given to the local culinary tradition. It's about the time to take a close look at what's eaten in Minnesota.

As most of my culinary experience in Minnesota has been limited to the dining halls at an educational institution (like most of my readers), I haven’t had many chances to experience typical Minnesotan meals in a way the locals would. My biggest complaint about food at Carleton is the lack of seafood.Not only the variety of fish dises, from succulent fresh tuna in sushi and grilled mackerels seasoned with salt to beautiful pinkish colored salmon, which has been an extremely rare treat, but also other delights from the sea, ranging from steamed whole crabs to mussels. Sure, these items are arguably more difficult to obtain because of the climate with long and harsh winter as well as our location, being at the heart of the country surrounded by land not sea. Deeply disappointed, I told myself that Minnesota is not the right place for fish-lovers and almost made a mistake of ending my thought there. However, recently, as the spring sun finally shines over Northfield, I saw Minnesotans happily coming out with their fishing poles to the Cannon River or even to Mai Fete Island. This state-wide activity reminded me that fish don’t always have to come from the sea. I was fooled by the grocery market shelves and dining hall menus into thinking that fresh fish cannot be found in Minnesota. As a matter of fact, with over 10,000 lakes in this state alone, the accessibility to water for Minnesotans might actually be far better than that for any other people near the sea. They go fishing even during the harsh winters, not minding the temperatures well below 30 degrees. Alas, if not seafood, there is plenty of ‘lakefood’ in Minnesota!

Unfortunately, I myself had not had a chance to personally experience the joy of fishing in Minnesota nor the taste of walleye, the official state fish. To fully embrace the local culture, make sure to try walleye before graduating, and maybe wild rice on the side (an ultimate Minnesotan affair!). Of course, it will taste best if you cook with the fish you catch.

Walleye Sandwich Recipe
(Serves 4)


4 walleye fillets, without skin and bones
¼ cup liquid (water, milk, cream, white wine, or beer)
1 egg
½ cup all-purpose flour
14 cup dry bread crumbs (or mixture of bread crumbs and almond)
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp ground paprika
¼ lb Vegetable oil or Butter for frying pieces of hamburger buns or French baguette
Lettuce leaves
Tomatoes, sliced
Tartar sauce

1. Rinse filets and pat dry with paper towels; cut into sizes appropriate for sandwiches.

2. In a flat dish, beat the liquid of your choice and egg until well blended.

3. In another flat dish, combine flour, cracker or bread crumbs, baking powder, salt, pepper, and paprika until smooth.

4. Dip filets into the egg mixture, then into the breading mixture (pat breading onto the filets with your fingers), shaking off excess.

5. Place the breaded filets in a single layer on a platter or pan; refrigerate for 30 minutes (this will allow the breading to set).

6. Preheat oven to 150 degrees F. In a large frying pan, heat 1/2-inch of vegetable oil to 365 degrees F.

7. Add the breaded filets and fry 3 to 5 minutes on each side, turning once, or until fish flakes easily with a fork and is golden brown.

8. Remove from hot oil and drain on paper towels. Serve on buns or loaves with lettuce leaves, sliced tomatoes, and tartar sauce.

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