Put It In Your Mouth (Yellow Perch)
The Yellow Perch, mostly seen as a pest to sport fishermen and women throughout much of North America, are holding a very important secret. This secret goes against what we normally think of the perch so much that you might not even believe it. What I’m about to tell you could shake your foundations to the core, and make you regret every time you’ve caught one of these aggressive spiny yellow fish and tossed them back. Are you ready for this?
Yellow Perch, are delicious. In fact, I would go so far as to say that when properly prepared, the yellow perch is one of my favourite fish to eat. Yellow Perch is a flakey, white, mild, and sweet meat. The best way I’ve heard Yellow Perch described was this, “take the best day of your life, and put it in your mouth”.
It’s fair to say that in the course of a single season, I catch and release well north of 100 yellow perch, as they’ll bite pretty much any lure, even lures that are nearly the same size as themselves. After eating some this year, I regretted each time I had released one of the “jumbo” yellow perch we catch so often in our waters.
In 2014, I decided to do a little bit of experimenting. One day, while I was fishing for Smallmouth on a local river, I threw back probably the 20th perch of the day, thinking “there has to be a use for all these things”. That night, while browsing YouTube, I came across this video which seemed to make cleaning and fileting perch look extremely easy. That was the second secret these spiny buggers had kept from me all this time. From catch to pan can easily be done by anyone, in only a few seconds each, all that’s needed is a sharp knife, preferably a filet knife, and you’re in business.
Over the summer, we prepared yellow perch in a number of different ways, and it was great each time. I can’t wait for the start of ice fishing to get out and catch some more of these treats.
This is one of our favourite ways to prepare a perch for the table:
- 1-2 Fresh Perch Filets per person
- ½ tablespoon Olive Oil
- ½ tablespoon Butter
- 1 cup Flour
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- ¼ teaspoon Pepper
- ½ teaspoon Paprika
Cleaning the yellow perch is very easy. We prefer the method we linked to above, which skins the perch first, rather than after you’ve removed the filet. Seeing is believing, and we recommend you watch the video to see how truly easy it is. However, we will explain that here:
- - Simply make an incision with your knife behind the gill cover on both sides from back to belly of the perch
- - Then using the point of your knife run the tip along the top of the back (along the backbone) and down the belly. You do not want to go deep for this at all, as we’re only separating the skin.
- - Make the incision along both sides of the backbone and you can quickly peel the skin away.
- - Once you’ve removed the skin, you simply remove the filet. Run the knife along the backbone, taking care not to cut through the ribcage. Once you reach the bottom of the ribcage you can go right through from top to bottom down as far as you’ve skinned.
- - Filet around the ribcage with the tip of your knife. This will take some practice to get good at it. The bones on a yellow perch are not very thick and it’s easy to cut through the bones. If you do, don’t fret, just cut them out of the fillet after you’ve removed it from the fish.
Once you’ve gotten your catch all fileted, get ready for some yummy perch for supper.
In a pie plate or shallow bowl mix the flour with the salt, pepper and paprika. The amounts of each are not firm, and when I make it I mostly just season to taste. You could omit the paprika or use some other favorite spice if preferred. Perch is a very light white fish and whatever spice you choose will enhance your perch experience. Pat the filets lightly with paper towel to remove any excess moisture. Heat olive oil and butter in a frying pan on medium high heat. Put the filet in the flour and make sure to coat both sides. You want a light dusting of flour. Place your filets in the hot pan, it cooks quite quickly flip after a couple of minutes it should be golden brown and crispy.
Cook in small batches, 2-3 filets at a time try not to overcrowd your pan. The key to properly preparing Yellow Perch is to ensure that you don’t overcook it. When the meat reaches an opaque texture but is still moist on the inside, you’re ready to eat.
The Yellow Perch can contain “Red Worm”. Most often, these red worms survive in the internal organs of the perch, but rarely can be found in the meat. While science says that these parasites are harmless to humans when cooked thoroughly, we tend to discard any fillets we find with abnormalities such as this. However, the choice is entirely up to you.
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