Any angler who has visited Minnesota or spoken with a Minnesotan knows that these folks are walleye fanatics. Some might say that these fish don’t fight well and don’t even taste good, they are bland and have nothing to do with the flavor of trout. But I can say as someone who lived briefly in Minnesota that I completely bought into the walleye hype. I love to fish and eat marble eyes. That’s why I decided to recreate this classic McDonald’s sandwich using one of my favorite fish to eat. (Fun fact: McDonald’s uses Alaska pollock, also known as walleye pollock, for its sandwich, although Alaska pollock, despite its secondary name, is not closely related to walleye .)
- 2 walleye fillets fully thawed, 1/2 inch thick and 6-8 ounces each
- 1 liter buttermilk
- 2 John Dory buns
- 2 slices of American cheese
For the dough and the breading
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 beaten eggs for gilding
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs, pulsed for finer crumbs
- Peanut oil (or similar cooking oil) for frying
For the tartar sauce
- 1 tablespoon small Vlasic kosher dill pickles, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon capers, usually mashed
- 1 teaspoon freshly chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon of white sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup mayonnaise
Makes two servings
If you’re making this sandwich from a fresh catch, you’ll want to remove the meat from the skin. To do this, take a very sharp fillet knife and make a slash towards the tail of the fillet, separating enough flesh from the skin to grip the skin. Then angle the knife down at 15-20 degrees and, using your grip on the hide, pull the rest of the fillet towards you as you gently work the knife back and forth.
For larger walleyes you will want to make an incision to the left and right of the bone line in the tenderloin. From there, you can basically remove each side of the meat from the tenderloin, away from the bones. This is sometimes called decompressing a walleye. For 12 inches, this step may not be necessary. Ideally, you want to distribute the tenderloins so that they match the bun.
Soak your walleye fillets in buttermilk for 2-3 hours. Next, get into the tartar sauce. Thoroughly toss Vlasic Kosher Dill Pickles (two small pickle-sized pickles work here) with capers and fresh lemon juice. When contents are mostly fine-textured or pureed, combine contents of food processor with mayonnaise and remaining ingredients. Finely chop the parsley by hand and add it (do not mix in a food processor). Salt to taste. If it’s not tangy enough, add a little fresh lemon juice. Cover and reserve in the refrigerator.
Once your fillets are soaked, heat the cooking oil in a deep fryer, dutch oven, or something similar to 375 degrees F. Next, prepare your batter station. In a large tray, add the flour, cornstarch and spices and mix well. In a large bowl, add the beaten eggs. In another large tray, add the panko breadcrumbs. (You can pulse panko breadcrumbs a dozen times in a food processor for finer breadcrumbs, but this step isn’t essential.) Just before frying, turn on your oven’s broiler to prepare it for toasting small breads and melting fried cheese. fillets.
Read next: How to make a Reuben with Corned Venison
When the oil is at room temperature, drizzle it out of the buttermilk, stir it into the flour and cornstarch mixture, add it to the egg wash, coat it with panko breadcrumbs, and add it to the hot oil. While your fillets cook, toast each bun under the broiler, add the tartar sauce and set aside. Fry each fillet until all sides are golden brown. Place the fried fillets on a grill rack and add a slice of cheese to each. Toss the pan-fried cheesy pickerel under the broiler for about 10 seconds, just to melt the cheese, then immediately add the tenderloin to your tartare toast.