Pike-perch: What kind of fish is it? And how to cook it?

From frying it, grilling it to cooking it in the oven

You may not expect it, but a pike-perch fillet is perfect for many tasty dishes. It’s a yummy fish, whether cooked, fried, stewed, salted or dried. Pair it with a nice glass of wine.

Read more about this very tasty and versatile fish in this article.

Chapter 1

What kind of fish is pike-perch?

Pike-perch, also known as zander, is a predatory fish and is elongated. It has a round shape and a pointed head. The pike-perch also has large catch teeth and two dorsal fins, the front of which has hard, spiky rays. This fish also has large glass eyes with a reflective retina.

Pike-perches live mainly on other fish such as roach and young bream. They also eat amphibians and shellfish. Depending on the bottom, the light intensity in the water and the clarity of the water, the fish can be silver gray to golden brown in color. The faint dark transverse stripes may fade in older fish.

They can grow up to 120 cm long and weigh 12-15 kg. This fish lives in open and mainly deep water. In winter, the pike-perches migrate to very deep water where they live at depths between 10-20 meters.

Pike-perches live best on their own because they are intolerant of their peers. In the wild, these solitary fish can stay away from each other and reunite during the mating season.

They spawn from April to May when the temperature reaches 12 to 15 °C. In shallow water, the males make a pit that exposes aquatic plant roots and guard the eggs laid therein. By making fin movements they provide the eggs with fresh oxygen-rich water.

The Pike-perch cannot handle too much light and therefore looks for deep or shady places in the water during the day. Young larvae will not even survive too high a light intensity.

Chapter 2

Where does the fish come from?

The pike-perch is a fish that originally comes from the Elbe and Danube area, but has since spread throughout Europe. You will find them in all rivers and all waters that are connected to them.

Chapter 3

How does pike-perch taste?

Pike-perch is a white fish with firm meat, few bones and a refined taste. Characteristic is the sweet-ish neutral taste. It’s also known as a Dutch delicacy because of its unique taste.

Chapter 4

Is pike-perch healthy?

Pike-perch is a lean fish, which, in contrast to oily fish, contains a lot less healthy omega-3 fats. Nevertheless, lean fish remains very healthy and it is a great change if you regularly eat oily fish.

This fish is packed with vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins B5, B12 and vitamin E, potassium and phosphorus.

Vitamin B5 is needed to provide the body with sufficient energy and influences the build-up and breakdown of proteins and fats from food and drink.

Vitamin B12 is necessary for the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen in your blood and also for the proper functioning of the nervous system.

Vitamin E protects the cells, blood vessels, organs, eyes and tissues and also plays a role in regulating the metabolism in the cell.

Potassium has a beneficial effect on blood pressure and phosphorus gives strength to bones and teeth.

Chapter 5

Which wine goes with it?

Pike-perch can be paired well with a fresh, tight white wine. For example, a delicious citrusy Muscadet or a fresh and fruity Chenin Blanc.

Chapter 6

How to cook pike-perch?

Pike-perch is a versatile fish that you can cook in different ways. You can fry the fish, but also grill it, cook it on the barbecue or in the oven. You can buy fresh fish at the fishmonger or frozen in the supermarket.

It’s always best to cook fish on the same day it was bought. Then the fish also tastes best. If you still want to keep the fish, you can put it covered on a plate in the refrigerator, or in a sealed plastic container. Don’t store the fish in the refrigerator for more than two days at most.

Frozen fish will keep for about 3 months.

You can count on about 130 grams of fish per person.

If you buy fresh pike-perch from the fishmonger, you can ask him to clean it for you. But of course you can also clean it yourself.

Cleaning pike-perch

You can easily clean pike-perch as follows:

  • Remove the scales from both sides with the blunt side of a knife.
  • Cut off the side fins, dorsal fins and tail fin with kitchen scissors.
  • Cut open the belly from tail to head.
  • Pull out the organs with your fingers.
  • Carefully scrape out any remaining bits with a knife.

Filleting pike-perch

  • Cut all the way into the fish along the spine along the dorsal fin and cut the last piece of fillet free from the tail fin.
  • Then work your way down the length of the fish from front to back.
  • Let the knife slide as flat and as close as possible to the bones and cut the fillet completely loose.
  • Turn the fish over and do the same with the second fillet.
  • Wash the fillets well with cold water and pat dry.

You can make fish stock from the rest of the fish.

Frying it in a pan

If you want to fry pike-perch, you do so at a high temperature.

  1. Pat the fish dry with some kitchen paper and cut it into equal pieces.
  2. Put the fish in a plastic bag with some flour, salt and pepper.
  3. Mix everything wel.
  4. Heat some oil in a frying pan.
  5. Add some butter and wait for the foam to subside from the butter.
  6. Place the fish skin-side down in the pan.
  7. Fry the fish on both sides for about 8 minutes until golden brown and just cooked through.

Frying it in a pan

If you want to grill pike-perch, you do this at a high temperature.

  1. Heat some olive oil in a grill pan.
  2. Place the fish skin-side down in the grill pan.
  3. Grill the pike-perch fillet for about 6 to 7 minutes on both sides until golden brown.
  4. Season with some salt and pepper.

In the oven

If you want to cook pike-perch in the oven, you do this at a medium temperature.

  1. Preheat the oven to 210 °C.
  2. Rinse the fish and pat it dry with some kitchen paper.
  3. Brush the fish with oil and season it with some salt and pepper.
  4. Place the fish in a baking dish and drizzle some lemon juice.
  5. Place the dish in the center of the hot oven.
  6. Bake the fish for 20 to 25 minutes. The fish should have a temperature of 50 to 55 °C inside.

Grilling on the barbecue

If you want to barbecue pike-perch, make sure the barbecue is hot.

  1. Tear off a large piece of aluminum foil.
  2. Place the fish in the center of the foil and season it with herbs or salt and pepper. Wrapping the fish in foil prevents the fish from falling apart.
  3. Fold the foil tightly around the fish.
  4. It’s useful to place the closure upwards, so that you can check from time to time whether the fish is ready.
  5. Place the wrapped fish on the barbecue and grill for 10 to 15 minutes.