Before a few years ago, I had never heard of pickerel cheeks. How strange that is, as I grew up in the home of a life long fisherman. For my entire life, pickerel (as they call it in Canada) has always been my favorite fish, in the states we call it, walleye : )
Memories of fresh caught walleye, pan fried on the fire, camp-side is one of my all time favorite fishy memories. I love a lot of different types of fish, actually probably all types, but that memory lingers in my mind and has forever left an imprint there that walleye is on the top of the list.
So what are pickerel cheeks? They are a Manitoba speciality, a true local delicacy. Delicious, delicate, boneless coins of white meat, simply prepared is the best. It is a part of the fish many overlook focusing mainly on the fillets...some call them the scallops of Pickerel, either way, they are tender, moist, sweet and a treat to make and eat.
You can use different types of breading. Flour, panko...I used this very popular coating (found in all of the stores here), mostly because I love roasted garlic...you can't go wrong with butter, and I just really wanted to try it.
Rinse the pickerel cheeks.
You can dip them in an egg wash, but I find that milk is a good fit.
Dredge the cheeks in the coating. This product is very fine... similar to flour in texture, but smells heavenly.
Once coated, heat a pan with a few tablespoons of unsalted butter and place cheeks in the pan to fry.
They won't take very long to cook, let them brown slightly and flip.
You can sprinkle some dill on the cheeks for seasoning and to add a pretty look to the cheeks. The coating became very crisp and puffed up a bit. Very nice : )
Once they are golden brown on both sides, place them on paper towel to drain off any extra butter.
Don't let the idea of the name "cheeks" scare you off from trying them. I was a little hesitant myself the first time, but if you are lucky enough to find them, try them. They are Soooo Delicious!
To answer the question...and it's a great question! Where in the world do you get so many cheeks?
Here is where...a great company, great people! http://futuresfoodproducts.ca/wild_fish/