NIPIGON Whitefish Fry

This one we’ll try more than twice. In fact, it’s an over 26-years-running-and-til-the-day-I-die tradition, that’s how much we like it.

Passed down from my great grandfather to my grandfather and then to my parents and now us kids, the yearly whitefish fry is the simplest joy my food memory can recall. You see, up in northern Michigan and the surrounding areas, whitefish is the white, flaky, local catch typically found on every restaurant menu. Prepared baked, sautéed, planked (surrounded by mashed potato glory), encrusted, or sprinkled with almonds (amandine), the only time we really choose to have it fried is at home.

Sourced from the Native American fishery just down highway 73, the guys there debone full fish for us and then we cut it into individual portion sizes. Simply coated in an egg wash and lightly dusted with flour, salt and pepper, the fish is layered in parchment and ready to go. Meanwhile, those not in the elbow deep in whitefish in the kitchen are prepping the pan that my great grandfather Menard used for this and only this purpose. Once the coals on our ancient Weber are ready to go, the secret frying grease (Two cans of Crisco. I kid you not, this stuff is still legal…) is added to the pan. When the oil sizzles at the flick of mom’s martini (those of you who had the pleasure of meeting my grandfather, Frank, will understand this step in the process), the fish goes in for a flash fry. Removed one by one with a slotted spoon just moments later, each golden brown piece of perfection is placed neatly between layers of paper towel to remove any excess grease.

With mashed potatoes, salad and local corn, we enjoy every last morsel as a glorious sunset closes out the day. Sadly I don’t think words can describe the light and airy flawlessness that is this meal, time and time again. But you’re always welcome to join us for your own taste of Great Lakes, NIPIGON style.