Today I offer two recipes. Both are recipes for perch. One recipe is gourmet in flavor and presentation. The other is not. It is a recipe for a quick, easy, healthy fish dinner suitable for serving to relatives.

First, the gourmet recipe: Oven Poached Lake Perch

The recipe was created by chef Henry Sinkus who owns and operates The Pine Baron’s Restaurant in Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin. The recipe is published in Sinkus’s cookbook: The Northwoods Table: Natural Cuisine Featuring Native Foods.

  • 2 pounds fresh or frozen lake perch (any white fish, such as sole, may be substituted)
  • 1 cup julienne-cut carrot
  • 1 cup julienne-cut celery
  • 1 cup thinly-sliced sweet onion
  • 1/4 cup thinly-sliced sun-dried tomato
  • 1 teaspoon fresh basil
  • 2 cups clam juice
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 pound sweet butter
  • parchment paper

Butter a large, oven-proof dish. Mix together carrot, celery, onion and sun-dried tomato and distribute evenly in the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle with basil. Fold perch filets in half, skin side in, and place in the dish, overlapping slightly. Add clam juice and cover the fish with buttered parchment paper.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Strain cooking liquid into a saucepan and return fish to oven to keep warm. Over medium heat, reduce liquid by one-half. Add cream and gradually whisk in butter. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Just before serving, sauce the fish. Serves six.

Northwoods Cook Book

As you can read from the recipe, and see from the picture, Sinkus’s recipe for perch is a truly gourmet creation. This chef does amazing things with the dead animals he gets out of lakes and woods. People come from all around to pay him lots of money so they can eat what he cooks. He inhabits a world I can only imagine.

But it’s likely he started out just like me. I mean, there was a time in which he could not cook. After much practice, he still had days on which what he cooked could not be eaten, (even by the dog?). But what drove him to excellence? – His gourmet spirit! Yes, gourmet cooking always begins with a gourmet spirit. Click on continue reading to learn the secrets of the gourmet spirit.

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