As the sun starts to hit the tree line, I can feel a noticeable change in the boat. Rod tips start to bounce more frequently, the bait cache is depleting more rapidly, and walleyes start to fill the live well.
After a day of musky fishing with minimal action, it’s nice to end a warm summer evening sipping a few good brews and jigging for a walleye dinner. As the daylight begins to drain out of the sky, I’m transported to my childhood where the simple task of lifting a few fish out of the water was the most important check on my to-do list. Now, in the dawn of my 30s, the apple juice has been replaced by beer and the to-do lists are quite a bit longer, but the serenity I find on the lake has endured.
This is a common scene anytime I pay a late summer visit to my good friend Ben Michlig in Northern Wisconsin for a weekend of fishing. We’ve got a perfect arrangement—Ben runs the boat and puts us on the fish, and back at the cabin I turn our catch into a feast. Over the last few years, we’ve fondly come to refer to this beloved pastime as ‘Slay to Gourmet,’ and with any luck this will be a trade-off we make for many years to come. As the seasons change, so does the haul. The walleyes of summer become deer and grouse in the fall, while the fat slabs of winter crappies lead to a turkey-filled spring. Ben finds them. I cook them.
For the first official installment of ‘Slay to Gourmet,’ I opted to go with one of my favorite foods—fish tacos! Fish tacos are so good, especially on corn tortillas with tomatillo salsa, pickled jalapeños, a quick guacamole, sliced radishes, cilantro, and hot sauce. It makes for a great spread on the table and also provides a fun, interactive meal for guests.
8 Medium tomatillos, peeled of shell
2 cloves peeled garlic, soaked in the juice of 1 lime
Salt to taste
Preheat your oven to 425°F. Place the tomatillos on a baking sheet and put them into the oven until the start to char and get mushy. Once cool, combine the tomatillos, garlic, lime juice, and salt in a food processor and blend until you have a salsa consistency.
3 avocados, pits removed and scraped out of the shell
1 medium tomato, diced
1 clove garlic, minced and sitting in the juice of 1 lime
Salt to taste
In a mixing bowl, mash all of the ingredients together using a fork. Add salt and pepper to taste.
10 jalapeños, seeds removed and thinly sliced
1 cup champagne vinegar
1 cup water
pinch of sugar
pinch of salt
In a small saucepan, bring the vinegar, water, salt and pepper to a boil. Put the sliced jalapeños in the pan, return to a boil and then take off heat. Keep the jalapeños in the warm pickling liquid until ready to serve.
Thinly sliced radish
8 walleye filets lightly covered in olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Turn the oven down to 350°F. Place the walleye filets on baking sheet with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake until cooked, about 8 minutes.
To serve: Char the tortilla shells on a gas flame on a stovetop or just warm them in the oven. Wrap them in a clean towel and serve on the table with the rest of the accoutrements and enjoy!
Note, this story was originally published on September 29, 2014.