Home-Style Fish Boil

Fish boils are held at supper clubs, inns, restaurants, and other spots up and down the lakefront on Friday nights, and occasionally on other nights of the week come summer. These boils — in addition to feeding the masses — also make for a good excuse to soak up the day’s last few moments and enjoy a gorgeous bayside sunset over the lake.

Home-Style Fish Boil

Prep Time

15 minutes

Cook Time

20 minutes

Serves

4 people

For those longing for a traditional fish boil, here’s a recipe for a Home-Style Fish Boil from Amelia Levin’s The Lake Michigan Cottage Cookbook. The amount of salt used at a fish boil might seem alarming, but the oils of the fish act as a protective barrier, allowing just enough salt in to add the right amount of flavor.

Serve with these sides also from Amelia’s book: Bavarian Dark Rye Bread (page 14) and butter and Creamy Coleslaw (page 15), along with your favorite local craft beer. For dessert, try a slice of Door County Cherry Pie (page 21), just like you’d finish off any traditional boil.

Excerpted from The Lake Michigan Cottage Cookbook © by Amelia Levin. Used with permission from Storey Publishing:

The Traditional Door County Fish Boil is combination of storytelling, cooking, and fire show, ending with a dinner of boiled whitefish, potato, and onion.

Photo: © David Nevala.

Door County Fish Boil

A skilled boil master — or in some cases, a local firefighter — throws kerosene onto a roaring fire that’s serving as the heat source for a large caldron of salted water, fish, onions, and potatoes.

A large group of local residents, vacationers, and other visitors — who planned ahead and reserved their spots — look on, plates and forks in hand, in eager anticipation of the hot meal to come. The foaming water violently bubbles up, hissing and spilling over the sides and bringing the fleshy chunks of whitefish to the top so they can be scooped off and served.

Fish boils like this are held at supper clubs, inns, restaurants, and other spots up and down the lakefront on Friday nights, and occasionally on other nights of the week come summer. These boils — in addition to feeding the masses — also make for a good excuse to soak up the day’s last few moments and enjoy a gorgeous bayside sunset over the lake.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 1-½pounds red potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 cup sweet onion or yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 4 Lake Michigan trout or whitefish steaks, cut ½ inch thick (about 1¼ pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish

Preparation

  • 1 Combine the water, potatoes, onion, ½ teaspoon of the salt, and the peppercorns in a 10-inch, deep skillet. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • 2 Place the fish over the potatoes and sprinkle the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt over the fish. Cover and continue to simmer until the fish is opaque, 5 to 7 minutes.
  • 3 Using a slotted spatula, transfer the fish to warm serving plates, then transfer the potatoes and onions alongside the fish. Drizzle the butter over the fish. Combine the sour cream and horseradish in a small bowl and serve on the side for the potatoes.

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