Salt packed walleye is a relatively simple preparation. Essentially, whole Lake Michigan walleye are stuffed with aromatics and baked in a salt cocoon. The preparation yields flavorful, tender flesh which we’ve opted to serve with garden herb chimichurri. I’ve added captions to walk you through the process.
Combine salt (3 parts), flour (1 part) and water to create a dry paste. Make a bed of the mixture on your baking pan, then pack the fish on all sides with the mixture. Andy orients the fish upright so they cook evenly. Take care not to make the cocoon too thick, aim for about 1/2 inch-1 inch. Completely encasing the fish will keep the steam from escaping, but if the crust is too thick the fish won’t cook properly.
We opted to use our in-ground oven, but you could certainly use a residential oven. This hardwood fire was burning for hours to make a nice deep coal bed. If cooking in your home oven, set it to 500 degrees. The fish is lowered into the pit, then covered. The fish is done when the cocoon is hard to the touch and has an internal temperature of 145 degrees.Let the fish rest for 10-15 minutes. The brown coloration is from the smoke in the pit; if using a home oven the cocoon will retain its white color.
Crack open the cocoon with the back of a spatula, or a similar tool that won’t gouge the flesh in any way. Remove the cocoon in pieces until you can get to the meat. Put the fish on a platter and serve with your favorite pesto or condiment of choice.
Put out a spread, pair with a dry white from Leelanau County and enjoy with friends!