Pair it up! Pickerel

Here in Manitoba, one-sixth of the province’s surface is covered by 100,000 freshwater lakes (I didn’t believe it either but it’s right there on the provincial government website.

Not surprisingly, there’s an abundance of good eats that come from the water in this province – especially in the form of pickerel.

Also known as walleye in the U.S. and other areas of the world, pickerel is a mild, flaky white fish that takes well to both mild and strong seasoning.

Recipe-wise, There’s the classic shore lunch-style breaded pickerel – one of the simplest ways to prepare the fish, but when done right, it’s the perfect combination of texture and flavour. This simple recipe features panko breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, flour and oil, and a bit of lemon. That’s it.

Pair it with the Fort Berens 2014 Pinot Gris, a vibrant, light-plus bodied white from Lillooet that delivers crisp, bright citrus, peach and red apple notes and a splash of acidity that’ll work well with your shore lunch-style pickerel.

On the spicier side of things is another one of my favourite ways to eat pickerel – in a taco (but I’ll eat almost anything in a taco). In this recipe (with video!) you’ll see the fish is simply grilled with some olive oil, but the killer pico de gallo and lime crema like those in this recipe make all the difference.

The Mt. Boucherie 2013 Riesling is fermented dry, yet retains ripeness in the citrus, green apple and stone fruit flavours. That splash of acidity and the relatively higher alcohol content will help this wine stand up to your pickerel taco.

Want even more kick? Check out this blackened pickerel dish. The paprika, cayenne, thyme, black pepper and other seasoning smoke and blacken in the skillet, creating a flavourful, spicy crust.

Here we can move into lighter red wine territory – Pinot Noir, Gamay, or even a lighter-bodied Syrah. Or how about another, more obscure Pinot, such as Thornhaven’s 2012 Pinot Meunier? It’s similar to a Pinot Noir – plenty of cherry and red berry notes – but with a bit less earthy notes and a touch more grippy tannin that will grapple with the blackened spices nicely.


Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson is the wine columnist and literary editor for the Winnipeg Free Press. He’s on Twitter and Instagram at @bensigurdson.