Cedar Plank Walleye
An aspect of wilderness trips I admire, is the simplicity. With a daily goal to go from point A to point B, a hot meal becomes a luxury and the greatest motivator. The expression of “Hanger” embodies any individual who has pushed lunch back a few hours, due to an unforeseen portage extension or weather delays. Meals are a cooperative effort, and eaten together. It is a time to reflect on a hard day, or prepare for the next challenge. Some of the best moments of my trips were at mealtime, thus I strongly believe great food can make the difference on any canoe trip.
My favorite is fish, the mighty walleye to be exact. Growing up with a cabin, I had my fair share of white fish. For this recipe, we’ll go big with my Cedar Plank Walleye. I have yet to get a complaint on this style of fish, smoke is the perfect addition to the meat. Hopefully you can find a fallen cedar tree nearby! If not, pack one in your gear from the store, they will work just fine.
What You’ll Need:
Cut Cedar Planks (½ in. thick, slightly longer than the filets)
If you can find a fallen down Cedar, cut off a few pieces about 2 feet long each and 6 inches wide. Using a saw, axe, or whatever you have available cut and trim the wood as best you can into planks.
2: Catch Fish
I can’t help you here… Sorry
3: Cleaning The Catch
I like to de-scale the fish first, before I take the meat off. Lay it down on your fileting station; my favorite is the bottom of a boat.
Hold the tail firmly in one hand then run your knife dull side down from tale to fin. You will be met with some resistance. Once all scales fly off you’re ready to fillet.
Lift up the Pectoral fin (located on the side of the fishy) and cut your knife in until it reaches the backbone.
Turn your blade towards the tail and cut alone the spine. You will cut through bones but that’s fine, they can be removed after! Cut all the way down to the tail and remove the fillet.
For the rib cage (located in the middle of the filet) put your blade at the edge of the bones and slice into the meat, following as close to the bones as possible. This should take just the bones off leaving meat underneath it. It takes practice; don’t worry if you cut off too much. It happens to the best of us.
There are a few other bones in here such as the Y Bone, but they are quite easy to eat around. For this style of cooking I just leave them in.
Some people say you should soak your planks before cooking on them. I believe in that, I do it at home on my smoker and barbeque, but I have found for this method nice dry cedar is perfect. You get a little more smoke and heat from an open fire, but again this is personal preference.
Get your fire going early, so you have a good ratio of embers and flame. Think of a s’more fire but with a little more heat to it. Place your grill on top, leveling as best you can.
Wash the fish off in freshwater then pat dry with your finest of shirts. Season the meat side with equal parts salt, pepper, and chili powder. A little dill is also nice touch.
Make sure your butter is nice and soft. It’s camping, safe to assume it’s not out of the fridge hard!
Place the planks on the grill.
Followed by the fillets in the middle of the planks, as the sides will char during cooking.
Put a little butter on each fillet for flavor.
Keep an eye on your planks as the fish cooks, as the edges will periodically light on fire. Simply blow it out or splash a little water on the flame if need be.
Once the meat has turned from an opaque to a solid [white] color, take them off the fire. Sprinkle extra dill on top for artistic flair and garnish
That’s it that’s all! Filleting does take some practice, don’t stress about making the perfect cuts. I’ve] attached a few pictures to help add some visual aid to my instructions. Good luck fishing, and happy eating!