The Pickerel Dinner: Gimli hails as the best place to get it
Got a hankering for a pickerel dinner? You’re in the right place. Gimli just might be the best place to get your fill.
This buttery, firm, white-fleshed lake fish has been at the top of menus for diners across central Canada and the northern United States for a century. For example, at Ayden Kitchen and Bar in Saskatoon, walleye plucked from nearby Lac La Ronge is served with rutabaga, fired potato, cabbage and raisin jam, smoked paprika oil and gremolata for a decidedly upscale plate. Meanwhile at the Little Missouri Saloon & Dining in Medora, North Dakota, there’s an all-you-can-eat walleye fry every Friday to cap off a solid week.
Around here, we know this freshwater species is harvested commercially with the bulk being exported to restaurant chains, supermarket chains and distributors in dozens of countries. The Gimlet history of commercial fishing dates back to 1875 when Icelanders selected the destination as their new home. Descendants of original families including the Olsons, Kristjanssons and Mathesons continue to ply the water in summer, fall and even in winter when four feet of ice locks our lake.
And it’s the sweetheart of the recreational angling set on both sides of the border. It’s the state fish of Minnesota, Vermont and South Dakota and the official fish of Manitoba and Saskatchewan. In fact, Minnesotans eat more walleye per capita than any other American jurisdiction. But a funny thing happens on the north side of the border, particularly in the Prairie provinces. While walleye consumption is robust, you’ll seldom see it called walleye on the menu. Instead, it’s called pickerel, causing no end of debate and confusion because true pickerels are members of a different genetic family. But we’ll let the fisheries biologists sort it out while we continue to enjoy our pickerel burgers, pickerel cheeks, pickerel tacos and pickerel dinners.
Wondering where to get your fill? Try these local establishments that serve up some of the best plates.
Kris’s Fish & Chips
Seagull’s in Lakeview Gimli Resort