Fileting Northern Pike for the Fish Tacos Recipe

Easy Fish Tacos

I wrote this fish tacos recipe originally for my ice fishing friends, using perch.  Since they ice fished 50 days a winter, when the ice cooperated, they needed another recipe or two to vary the dinner fare.  I prefer fishing when it’s warmer, and really enjoy the thrill of pike when they’re spawning.  So that’s what I use for my fish tacos. Feel free to substitute any pale-fleshed fish, bass, works perfectly too, and if you love the flavor of trout, that’s an option as well.

FYI, for others who like to fish for pike, here’s a tip for avoiding the pesky Y bones—the line of bones that are embedded in the filets, if you filet pike the way you filet other fish.

But you don’t have to. Years ago, our friend Scott Sundheim, showed me a better way.

He started with the pike lying on its stomach—not its side.

Then he cut straight down behind the head, until he hit bone, and turned the knife 90 degrees, so the side of the blade was lying on the spine, and the edge pointed to the tail.

He then sliced a filet off the back of the pike.  What you might call a backstrap. Depending on the size of the pike, you’d have a hefty filet to throw on the grill.  (And pike flesh holds together during cooking better than other fish.)

With the backstrap off, the tops of the Y bones were exposed.  Scott then turned the fish on its side and took a filet off each side in turn, being careful to keep his knife below the Y bones. (And not cut through them.)

One swipe from neck to tail then, lifting the filet, slicing up the underside of the Y bones to free it.  (Like lifting the backstrap off the rib cage to free it.)

On a 30 inch fish we had a back filet that was an inch thick at its best, and side filets somewhat thinner. And No Y bones embedded in any of it. We saved the thicker filet to make fish kabobs later, and used the thinner side filets for fish tacos.

 I wrote Scott’s method of fileting pike up for my game cooking column in Field & Stream many years ago, and that spring he was guiding a guy who caught an array of fish, including pike. When they got to the cleaning station at the end of the day, the client, looking a bit sheepish, said there was a special way he wanted to filet the pike.  Then he drug out a piece of paper from his wallet, unfolded it on the fish cleaning table, and said, ‘I just read about this.”

Of course it was my column in Field & Stream, and when Scott pointed to his name in the piece, they both had a good laugh.

This recipe appeared in the February 2015 issue of Rifle Loony News, now collected in Rifle Loony News: The First Five Years.

https://www.riflesandrecipes.com/product/rifle-loony-news-the-first-five-years/

Northern Pike Filet for Fish Tacos

Fish Tacos Recipe

Makes 4 tacos

Feel free to multiply the recipe to feed a crowd.  And if you are gluten sensitive, I have made this with rice flour many times.  The crispy finish on the filet is even better with rice flour than with wheat flour.  (I’d had fried calamari in a couple of fancy restaurants, both using rice flour, so it’s not just for people with glute issues.)

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup fresh or bottled salsa
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 4 fish filets, 5-7 inches long
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons flour
  • 4 corn tortillas (5-inch)
  • Chopped red onions
  • Sliced lettuce

Preparation

  1. Mix the salsa and mayonnaise together and set aside.  Drag the fillets through a light dusting of flour–it keeps the fish from spattering in the skillet–and set aside.
  2. Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat in an 8-inch skillet. When the oil is hot (drop a bit of flour in the oil and see if it sizzles), lightly brown each fillet, turning once, then draining on paper towels.
  3. Assemble the tacos: as the fillets cool enough to handle, toast 4 corn tortillas in the toaster, spread 1/4 of the salsa/mayo mixture on each tortilla, then sprinkle with chopped onions and lettuce.  Add the fillet, fold over and enjoy.
Easy Fish Tacos Recipe | Rifles and Recipes

Try the delicious and simple fish tacos recipe tonight. You're going to love it and so will your family and friends!

Type: main dish

Cuisine: American

Keywords: fish tacos, pike recipe

Recipe Yield: 4 servings

Recipe Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup fresh or bottled salsa
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 4 fish filets, 5-7 inches long
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons flour
  • 4 corn tortillas (5-inch)
  • Chopped red onions
  • Sliced lettuce

Recipe Instructions:

Preparation:

  • Mix the salsa and mayonnaise together and set aside. Drag the fillets through a light dusting of flour--it keeps the fish from spattering in the skillet--and set aside.
  • Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat in an 8-inch skillet. When the oil is hot (drop a bit of flour in the oil and see if it sizzles), lightly brown each fillet, turning once, then draining on paper towels.
  • Assemble the tacos: as the fillets cool enough to handle, toast 4 corn tortillas in the toaster, spread 1/4 of the salsa/mayo mixture on each tortilla, then sprinkle with chopped onions and lettuce. Add the fillet, fold over and enjoy.

Editor's Rating:
5
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