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Perch

Also indexed as: Walleye Pike, Yellow Pike

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Preparation, uses, and tips

Scale fish by placing it in the sink under cold running water. Grasp fish firmly by the gills and scrape off scales with a fish scaler or small, dull knife. Use short strokes and work from the tail to the head. The skin is usually cooked and eaten with the fish.

To remove the head, cut the flesh on both sides with a knife. If the fish is small, slice directly through the spine. For a larger fish, place the knife between vertebrae and tap the back of the knife with a hammer.

To fillet, use a sharp, thin knife. With the perch lying on its side, insert the knife behind the gills, and cut in an arc down to just above the backbone. Continue cutting parallel to the backbone toward the tail. Bring the knife up at the tail and remove the fillet.

The secret to successful perch cookery is to not overcook. Whichever of the following cooking methods you choose, your perch will be cooked when its flesh becomes opaque yet is still moist on the inside.

Baking

Rinse fish and pat dry with a paper towel. Large whole walleye can be stuffed before baking. Place whole or filleted perch in a baking pan and cover with sauce. Bake in the oven at 400°F (200°C) until a knife slice in the thickest part reveals the flesh to be opaque but still moist.

Broiling

Rinse perch fillets and pat dry with a paper towel. Place fish on a rack above a baking dish. Brush with oil or butter or dredge in flour and seasonings, if desired. Shake off any excess flour. Preheat broiler and adjust oven rack so fish is 3 to 4 inches (about 7.6 to 10cm) from the element. Broil, turning once, until fish is opaque but still moist in the center, six to ten minutes, depending on size of the fish.

Frying

Rinse perch and pat dry with a paper towel. Dredge in flour and seasonings, if desired. Shake off any excess flour. Heat frying pan until hot. Add butter or oil. Put in fillets and cook, turning once, until opaque but still moist in the center, two to ten minutes, depending upon the size of the fish.

Deep-frying

Pour oil into a wok or deep fryer; it should be at least 1 1/2 inches (about 3.8cm) deep, and the cooker should be less than half full of oil. Heat oil to 375°F (190°C), using a thermometer to monitor temperature. Cut perch into similar-sized pieces, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2-inch (about 3.2 to 3.8 cm) thick. Dip in batter, drain, then slip pieces into hot oil. Cook until brown, two to three minutes.

Poaching

Bring poaching liquid, consisting of water, broth, and herbs and spices, to a simmer. Slip in perch, then cover pan and keep liquid at a simmer for about eight minutes per inch (about 2.5cm) thickness of the fish.

Steaming

Place perch on a greased perforated rack over 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5cm) of rapidly boiling water. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and keep water at a constant boil through cooking time, eight to ten minutes per inch (about 2.5cm) thickness of the fish.

Buying and storing tips

Quality perch is easy to recognize. Fresh perch never smells fishy, and the flesh will give slightly when you press it with a finger, then spring back into shape. When choosing perch fillets, whether they’re fresh or previously frozen, look for moist, translucent (never dried out) flesh. Unlike other fish, the freshness of walleye cannot be judged by its eyes, which are always cloudy and never clear. Keep perch cool on the trip from the market to your house. Never let it stay unrefrigerated for long.

To store perch, remove packaging, rinse fish under cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. Fish deteriorates when it sits in its own juices, so place it on a cake rack in a shallow pan filled with crushed ice. Cover with cling wrap or foil and set in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Perch will store well this way for up to two days.

When well-wrapped, perch can be frozen for up to two months in a refrigerator freezer compartment and three to four months in a deep-freeze. Use lined freezer paper and wrap fish tightly from head to tail with at least two layers of paper. To thaw slowly, unwrap, place fish in a pan, cover, and leave for 24 hours in the refrigerator. To thaw more quickly, place the whole fish (enclosed in waterproof plastic) in a sink with cool running water, allowing about 30 minutes per pound (450 grams). For fastest thawing, use the defrost cycle of your microwave, allowing two to five minutes per pound (450g), with equal standing time in between zaps.

Varieties

Walleye (also called walleye pike, yellow pike, or pike-perch) has white flesh, few bones, and a delicate flavor. It is sold whole or as fillets. Yellow perch is a popular sport fish, usually sold whole.

Nutrition Highlights

Perch (cooked, dry heat), 3 oz. (85g)
Calories: 103
Protein: 20.3g
Carbohydrate: 0.0g
Total Fat: 1.8g
Fiber: 0.0g
*Excellent source of: Selenium (47mcg)

*Foods that are an “excellent source” of a particular nutrient provide 20% or more of the Recommended Daily Value. Foods that are a “good source” of a particular nutrient provide between 10 and 20% of the Recommended Daily Value.

When cooked (dry heat), Atlantic perch provide 0.447 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, derived from EPA (0.103g), DHA (0.271g), and ALA (0.073g), per 100 grams of Atlantic perch.

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