Eskimo Ice Fishing
Ice fishing in the Northwoods can bring an abundance of fish (if you’re lucky). There are those who say you can only do so much with your fillets…deep fry, bake or add it to soups—but have they tried pickling it? This is the winter to give it a try. We’ve asked some of our friends and family what their favorite methods are to enjoy the “pickley-goodness” of a fresh caught northern pike. If you’re catching a number of small pike, or “picklers”, give one of these recipes a try and let us know how it turned out for you!
Sweet Pickled Northern
Mandy Uhrich | Pro Staff
You can use this recipe with any fish, but I’ve found that thicker, firmer, fish fillets such as northern pike work the best. They stay firm, and the acidity of the vinegar doesn’t break down the fish and make it mushy like pan fish or small walleye fillets.
- Chunk fish into pieces 2"x2". Don't worry about Y-bones as they will dissolve. Put in large Tupperware with a lid. You will need to shake it up in the brine over the next few days.
- Add 1 cup pickling salt for every quart of water you add to the fish. Make enough brine to cover fish. Refrigerate and shake at will to stir up salt water for 48 hours.
- Drain brine, rinse fillets in cold water, and rinse out Tupperware before putting fish back in and covering with white vinegar for another 48 hours.
- Make Sweet Pickling Brine
- 2 cups white vinegar
- 2 cups Riesling wine or Pink Mascot wine (sweet wines, so less added sugar)
I prefer the pink wine as it turns the fillets pink. These wines are also high in acidity and help with the pickling process.
- 2 Tablespoons pickling spices
- 1/2 squeezed lemon
- 1/4 cup sugar
- Boil for 5 minutes. Let cool completely. Very important make sure it is completely cool before you move on to Step 5 or you will ruin the fillets.
Some people prefer to leave pickling spices in brine, I prefer to strain out everything put the peppercorns.
- Layer your favorite veggies and fish in canning jars.
I like Vidalia sweet onions, red and yellow peppers, and jalapeños. Veggies, fish, veggies, fish etc.
- Pour cooled pickling brine into jars all the way to the top. Put lids on and refrigerate for 7 days—no cheating. Do not open and or eat before then.
Peppered Pickled Northern
Griff Ruppel | Veteran Angler
The only other thing I’d note is to make sure to rinse thoroughly after the salt brine, but DO NOT rinse after the vinegar brine. Good Luck!
Fillet fish and cut into bite sized pieces.
Combine 5 cups of water and 1 cup of pickling salt to make the salt brine. Add fish pieces and refrigerate for 48 hours.
Rinse thoroughly. Clean the glass container, and put rinsed fish back in, covering with white vinegar to create vinegar brine. Refrigerate for 48 hours, then discard vinegar.
Make Peppered Pickling Brine
– 2 cups white vinegar
– 4 bay leaves
– 1 teaspoon peppercorn
– 1 teaspoon whole allspice
– 1 1/2 cups sugar
– 2 tablespoons mustard seed
– 1 teaspoon whole cloves
Combine the above ingredients to make the pickling brine you’ll boil for 5 minutes. Let it cool, then layer fish and white onion slices in a glass container. Pour in enough of the pickling brine to cover container contents. Enjoy in 48 hours!
Spicy Pickled Northern
Ben Jerry | Product Line Manager
I like to use this recipe as a starting point. It’s great by itself, so I make a jar following this recipe, but I like spice, so I usually try to add some heat into an experimental jar if I have enough fish. I haven’t nailed down a combination fully worthy of documenting and repeating yet though.
In a one quart mason jar, mix 1 cup of pickling salt with enough water to fill the jar approximately 3/4 full to create a salt brine.
Cut the filleted fish into desired size chunks. If pickling smaller Northern Pike (under 28 inches), there is no need to remove the Y-bones.
Add fish chunks to the salt brine, making sure that they are completely covered. Refrigerate for 48 hours. After refrigerating, drain and rinse the fish with cold water. If you plan to continue using this jar for Step 4, also rinse the jar.
Place the fish back in the jar and add white vinegar until the fish is completely covered. Refrigerate for 48 hours, then drain and rinse with cold water.
Make Spicy Pickling Brine
– 2 cups white vinegar
– 1 cup sugar
– 1/2 cup white wine
– 1 Tablespoon pickling spices
– 1 tsp Tabasco sauce
– 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
In a pot, mix the ingredients above and bring the mixture to a boil. Continue to boil until the sugar is completely dissolved. Let the mixture cool.
In a jar, put a layer of fish followed by a layer of thinly sliced onion. Continue layering in this order until the jar is almost full. Poor enough of the pickling brine into the jar to completely cover the fish and onion.
Cover the jar and refrigerate for 7 days before eating.