Crispy Walleye with Ginger-pickled Cucumber Ribbons and Smoked Garlic Cream
Kevin Cullin piles layer upon layer of flavor on a simple crusted walleye fillet. Pickled cucumber ribbons and onions support the fish, which is crusted with buttermilk and coarse bread crumbs. The plates are drizzled with bright red pepper oil and creamy smoked garlic. As a final touch, he garnishes the plates with chopped egg, then sprinkles a straight line of freshly ground pepper from rim to rim across the chopped egg. You may use a favorite barbecue sauce, or Cullen’s own — the recipe follows the main recipe directions.
- Pickled Cucumber Ribbons
- Rice Wine Vinegar - 1 cup
- Dry white wine - 1/2 cup
- Pickling Spice - 1 tablespoon
- Serrano Chilies - 2, sliced
- Garlic Cloves - 2 small, sliced
- Brown Sugar - 1/4 cup
- Salt - 1 tablespoon
- Grated Ginger - 1/4 cup
- Cilantro Stems - 1/4 cup
- Cucumbers - 3, peeled, seeded, and cut into thin ribbon strips
- Red Onion - 1/2 cup, minced
- Thai Basil Leaves - 18, or other small basil leaves
- Red Pepper Oil
- Red Bell Pepper - 1
- Salad oil - 6 ounces
- Smoked Garlic Cream
- Garlic Cloves - 5, smoked and roasted
- Barbecue Sauce - 1/2 cup (purchased, or recipe below)
- Chili Paste - 1 teaspoon
- Sour Cream - 1/2 cup
- Chicken Stock - 1/4 cup
- Worcestershire sauce to taste
- Salt to taste
- Walleye Fillets - six, 4-ounce, deboned
- Buttermilk - 1/2 cup
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Panko (coarse bread crumbs) - 1 cups
- Canola oil - 2 tablespoons
- Hard-boiled egg - 1, chopped fine
- Freshly ground white and black pepper
- Barbecue Sauce
- Canola oil - 1/4 cup
- Yellow Onion - 1 medium, sliced
- Cilantro - 1/2 bunch
- Jalapeno Peppers - 2
- Ancho Pepper - 1, seeded
- Garlic Cloves - 3, sliced
- Turnip - 1 medium, 1 medium
- Brown Sugar - 2/3 cup
- Balsamic Vinegar - 1/2 cup
- Chicken Stock - 2 cups
- Horseradish - 1 teaspoon
- Catsup - 1 cup
- Worcestershire sauce - 2 large splashes
- Salt to taste
To prepare the cucumber ribbons: Combine the vinegar, wine, pickling spice, chilies, garlic, brown sugar, salt, ginger, and cilantro stems in a non-aluminum saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and simmer 3 minutes. Pour over the cucumber strips in a non-aluminum container and cover. Refrigerate overnight.
To prepare the red pepper oil: Blanch the pepper in boiling water for 30 seconds. Puree with the oil while still hot. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve and season to taste with salt. Put in a squeeze bottle and set aside.
To make the garlic cream: Pop the pulp out of the garlic cloves and blend with the barbecue sauce and chili paste. Fold the garlic puree into the stock and sour cream and season to taste with Worcestershire sauce and salt. Put in a squeeze bottle and set aside.
To prepare the fish: Check the fillets over for bones. Brush the fillets with buttermilk on one side, then season with salt and pepper. Press panko onto the buttermilk side.
Heat the canola oil in a large non-stick saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Put the fillets in the oil, crust-side down, and cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until the crust is well browned and crisp. Turn the fish and take the pan off the heat; let the fish stand and cook with the residual heat in the pan until it flakes easily. This is not a fish to be served rare. Put the fillets on a platter lined with paper towels.
To finish the cucumber ribbon salad mix: Drain the cucumbers, reserving the marinade. Toss the cucumber ribbons with the red onion and basil leaves. Strain the marinade over the mixture.
To serve: Spoon cucumber ribbon salad in a small mound on each warmed serving plate. Bring the onions to the top. Lay a fish fillet against each, crust-side up. Drizzle the plates with red pepper oil and garlic cream. Sprinkle chopped egg beside the fish. Sprinkle a line of freshly ground white and black pepper across the plate from rim to rim, passing over the chopped egg.
Heat the canola oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Saute the vegetables until the onions are transparent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the brown sugar and cook until the sugar caramelizes and the vegetables are deep brown. Add the vinegar and stock and cook until reduced to 2 cups. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve into a non-aluminum container. Stir in the horseradish, catsup, Worcestershire sauce, and salt. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator up to 4 days.