Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Invasive species: Walleye

by Dennis L. Clay
Herald Columnist | March 5, 2020 11:50 PM

Is walleye a game fish or an invasive species? My friends thought we were in seventh-heaven when we began catching and eating walleye.

While not the best fighter in water, these fish provided enough combat skills to keep an angler interested when on the line.

Plus, they are good to eat. They are second only to halibut in my book. First the angler removes the fillets, which should be the largest hunk of meat, one on each side of the fish.

Next, we have the cheeks one cheek on either side of the Walleye head. It takes about five seconds to remove each cheek and the thin outer membrane. A solid hunk of meat is left, which can be lightly seasoned and fried in a little oil. Delicious, simply delicious.

The walleye wings are the last piece of edible piece of this fish. There are four fins at the end of the gill plate. This is a walleye wing.

They are removed by turning the fish on its back and cutting from a point just behind these four fins. Cut through to the area where the wing angles forward and comes to a point.

In front of you should be a piece of meat with four fins attached. At first the butcher may think there isn’t enough meat to bother with, but with a limit of smaller ones, there will still be enough meat to make the procedure worthwhile.

A limit of wings can be frozen in order to fiddle with the meat another day. But, let’s say the time is now and the meat is needed for a meal. Some cooks place the wings in oil and cook them as they are, flipping them once. This works OK, but there is another way to prepare them for the table.

Take a steamer of some type. Mine is a skillet-type steamer. Load the skillet with as many wings as it will hold. Then steam them until they are completely cooked. Let them cool.

Use fingers to separate fins, bones and skin at this point. Left in the bowl will be the cooked sweet meat of the walleye wing. How is this meat used in everyday cooking?

The meat becomes walleye tacos at my house. But imagine using it in a salad or a casserole or, well, any recipe using any type of fish.

The limit on walleye has increased over the years, because we have too many. On some places on the Columbia River and other areas where salmon smolt are located, there is no limit on walleye, because they are eating the smolts.

We want to get rid of the walleye in those areas to protect the salmon.

Next week: More invasive species.