When I was growing up, I always remember my godfather (along with his brother, father and some pals) visiting each winter for their annual walleye fishing trip.
I loved having extended family over as it made our home feel extra cozy and full of excitement, which is a nice change for a family of three. Waking up to drip coffee and Krispy Kreme donuts—a special occasion item reserved for out of town guests—was unparalleled.
These trips also brought lots of laughter, pizza nights and once my dad had finished his bar in the basement, lots of beer-fuelled shenanigans that turned grown men back into boys.
But the best thing about the trip by far was seeing my Uncle Mike, my godfather extraordinaire, who I once accidentally called “Dad” and he’s never forgotten since. Quite literally like a second father, I’m so blessed to have memories of us playing checkers at my Nonna’s house on a Sunday dinner post-fishing trip.
As the years have passed and the fishing trips have now become a thing of nostalgia, that hasn’t meant that I haven’t seen my fair share of my dearest Oompa Loompa. Visiting craft breweries and playing cornhole in Virginia or having the legend himself pay a visit to Toronto to cook the best beef burgers ever, I loved these moments with my Uncle Mike that kept me laughing even long after he’d gone back home.
Some time ago, when I was frolicking about Milan, eating my way through the cityscape, I received some news that made me stop in my tracks. After chatting with my dad, I learned that his best friend, my Uncle Mike, was now battling a bout of cancer, leukemia to be precise. While at first there were many tears, my superstar Auntie Lori was quick to reassure us all that things would be just fine.
While he’s had some treatments at the hospital, Uncle Mike has been at home now for a bit and he’s kicking some serious ass, mentioned of course in my Auntie Lori’s blog posts. Because I think the world of my Oompa Loompa, I decided to show my #KrenikStrong support in the best way I know how—through walleye and burgers. Oh, and also beer.
Given that walleye, burgers and beer are some of the foods I associate most with my Uncle Mike, I figured creating a #KrenikStrong burger would only make the most sense! A golden, beer-battered piece of walleye topped with lettuce, bread and butter pickles (I wish I had a jar of my dad’s right now!), coleslaw and kettle cooked potato chips, this burger requires two hands!
Though I say it all the time, while I try my best to stay as true to my envisioned recipes as best as I can, some ingredients just aren’t available in Italy. That said, while this is a walleye burger—something that you’ll find with relative ease, say in Ontario or Minnesota—that’s not the case in Europe. So, I opted for the next best thing: merluzzo. Merluzzo is the Italian name for cod. And despite the fact that I thought baccalà was the Italian name for cod, baccalà actually refers to salted cod. Huh, the more you know.
Anyways, the point is that whatever fish you can get your hands on works, as long as it’s a nice thick piece. Otherwise, you can also stack two more slender filets on top of each other when it’s time to assemble your big boy burger.
Give it a try and let me know what you think! Also, if you happen to make it, be sure to tag me @honeyandtruffles along with the hashtag #KrenikStrong !
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Walleye Burger a.k.a. the #KrenikStrong Burger
* Makes 1 big burger *
1/2 cup green cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup purple cabbage, shredded
1 small carrot shredded
1 teaspoon vinegar
2 tablespoon mayo
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Garlic Maple Mayo (You can use regular mayo, but this adds something extra!)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon grain mustard
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 clove garlic, roasted and mashed
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup beer of your choice
6 oz of walleye or whatever is available to you
1 bun, sliced in half
1 tablespoon Garlic Maple Mayo
3 leaves batavia lettuce
1 tablespoon bread and butter pickles
1/4 cup Quick Slaw
1/4 cup kettle cooked potato chips
To make the Quick Slaw, add cabbage and carrots to a bowl. In a mason jar, add mayo, vinegar, salt and pepper and shake to combine. Pour over coleslaw and let rest in the fridge.
To make the Garlic Maple Mayo, in a bowl whisk together mayo, mustard, maple syrup and garlic. Pop it into the fridge to keep it fresh.
For the beer batter, start by whisking flour, salt and paprika together in a bowl. Coat your piece of fish in the flour mixture, shake off excess and set the filet to the side.
To the remaining flour, add egg and beer. Whisk until combined. Set aside until you’re ready to coat your floured filet.
In a pot over medium-high heat, add sunflower oil. If you add a bit of flour to the oil and it starts to sizzle, then you’re ready to fry.
Dunk the floured filet to the batter, coating evenly, before adding to the sizzling oil. Fry for about 10 minutes flipping halfway, until golden. Once the fish is cooked, let sit on a paper towel for a minute to absorb excess oil.
To assemble your walleye burger, spread mayo on both halves of the bun. On the bottom bun, layer lettuce, then pickles, followed by your fried filet. Top with a bit of coleslaw and some kettle chips before adding the top bun.
Enjoy with a can of Hamm’s or whatever IPA you love!