You can catch perch in the warm seasons, but it is now, when they have been living in icy water, that they are at their peak. The flesh is firm, and very mild. It is a beginner’s fish. If you are new to ice fishing, it will probably be one of your first catches. Pickerel are common, too, but I prefer the delicate flavor of perch.
White perch are so small and light, I have to listen very carefully with my fingers to feel that little nibble on the line. There is also not much to them, so unless we get five or six, we generally leave them for the eagles, which are always waiting for a handout. Cleaned, there are two petite filets, which have to be handled with care or they will fall apart. If there is roe, we eat that, too.
Yellow perch are usually a bit larger, and even though there is not much difference in flavor, many will gladly eat white perch, but scorn to eat yellow. I have no clue why this is so. We have been eating more perch than usual. The long winter and extended season of frozen water has extended our ice-fishing days. I have pan-fried perch with olive oil and sage, stir-fried it with Clementines, tamari, ginger and sugar snap peas, and tonight I will slide it into wine and scallions and put on a mound of garlicky kale.
Ice-out is not in sight, so, while we wait, eat perch!
Yellow and white perch on kale
7-10 cleaned perch
I medium sweet onion, sliced finely
4 scallions, cut into 3” lengths and halved length wise
3 cloves garlic, sliced thin or minced on processer
1 carrot, peeled, cut on diagonal into 1/8 “ slices
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp sesame oil
2 ½ package ( 5 oz.) baby kale
Tamari to taste
1 package rice noodles
Heat oil on low in sauté pan. Add onion, scallions, garlic, carrot and ginger and cook until onion is soft. Add sesame oil. Stir. Scrape into bowl and set aside. In same pan add filets. Turn up heat and cook gently about two minutes a side. Slide onto a plate and set aside. Add kale to pan and cook until wilted. Add tamari to kale and toss through. Push to side and add the ginger-onion mix.
In a saucepan, boil water and cook the rice noodles. Drain and put in a large shallow serving dish. Add kale and vegetables, and toss through rice noodles. Top with filets and serve.
Feeds 4 with light appetites