NMU Professors Edit Whitefish Cookbook


Whitefish is a regional staple, but for those who follow the same recipe or preparation method each time they make it, the rut is over. A new cookbook co-edited by Chris Kibit and Deborah Pearce (Technology and Occupational Sciences) offers a fresh perspective on this native species and fully exploits its versatility and flavor. Wild Caught and Close to Home: Selecting and Preparing Great Lakes Whitefish was produced by Michigan Sea Grant.

The spiral-bound paperback features about 60 recipes from regional chefs, culinary educators and fishermen. Local contributors include Kibit, Pearce, Nathan Mileski (Dining Services) and Ted Thill, owner of Thill’s Fish House.

Many cookbooks are organized by categories such as appetizers, salads, main entrees and desserts. Wild Caught and Close to Home is different.


“We didn’t want it to be a complicated book,” said Kibit. “Deb and I had all of the recipes spread out on the tables and realized it would make sense to organize them by cooking method. We’ve received some good comments on that. Each chapter starts out with an overview of the technique, the equipment required and general preparation hints. We follow that with several recipes that use the highlighted technique. The book focuses on whitefish, but the recipes can easily be adapted for other types of fish.”


The six chapters are: frying; sautéing and stir-frying; steaming, poaching and soup-making; broiling, grilling and campfire cooking; roasting and baking; and smoking and pickling. The book includes photos and brief biographies of the contributors. It also serves up advice for purchasing and handling whitefish, accompanied by information on its health benefits.


Kibit and Pearce received a Michigan Sea Grant about three years ago to help promote Great Lakes whitefish through such activities as a presentation at an American Culinary Federation Midwest Conference and a sponsored course at a regional chef’s conference.


“As the grant was coming to an end, I thought a cookbook would be an awesome culminating activity,” Pearce said. “The fun part for me was contacting chefs and others I hadn’t seen in a while through Facebook to solicit recipes that we could screen for the book. I also enjoyed going to Grand Rapids to work with a food stylist. I had to make up recipes and they took photographs in a studio. Some are featured at the beginning of each chapter.”


Wild Caught and Close to Home will be available at the NMU Bookstore. It can also be purchased online for $16.95.

Michigan Sea Grant is a cooperative program between Michigan State University and the University of Michigan. It is part of the National Sea Grant College Program, a network of more than 30 university-based programs in coastal states, administered through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Sauteed Great Lakes Whitefish Livers Marsala, by Chris Kibit

Yield: 6 servings       Prep Time: 15 minutes       Cook Time: 10 minutes

1 lb. whitefish livers

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, seasoned with salt and pepper

1/2 cup julienned onion

3/4 cup bacon, cooked and crumbled

6 tablespoons butter, melted

1/3 cup Marsala wine

Dredge the livers in the seasoned flour. Heat the butter in a saute pan. Add the livers after lightly shaking off the excess flour. Turn and cook until they are nearly cooked through (they will firm up), about 2 minutes per side. Add the onions and bacon and cook until onions are transparent, about 3 minutes. Add the Marsala. Stir carefully. Add the livers back to the pan and simmer for 1 minute.

Great Lakes Summer Whitefish, by Deborah Pearce

Yield: 4 servings       Prep Time: 20 minutes       Cook Time: 20 minutes


1 teaspoon sesame oil

12 arugula leaves

12 sorrel leaves

1-1/2 lbs. Great Lakes whitefish fillets

1-1/4 cups thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms


1/2 cup fish sauce (the unpleasant aroma of the sauce disappears and it enhances the flavor of the fish tremendously)

2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

4 cloves fresh garlic, minced

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

6 scallions, thinly sliced

1/2 cup sesame oil

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

Preheat oven to 350°. Brush sesame oil on parchment paper (photo demonstration provided in book) and layer arugula and sorrel on it. Place whitefish on top of greens. Mix fish sauce with ginger, garlic, sesame seeds, scallions, sesame oil and lime juice. Let sit for 10 minutes. Pour rub over fish; sprinkle with mushrooms. Fold parchment paper, making sure it is sealed. Place on baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Parchment will puff up and become golden brown when done. Open parchment wrapper very carefully to avoid steam burn. NOTE: This dish lends itself to being served in the paper (en papillote), letting the diner cut into the parchment to get the full impact. It looks great nestled on a bed of wild or brown rice or roasted red potatoes and served with a couple of lime wedges for extra color and citrus flavor.

Marquette Whitefish Chowder, by Nathan Mileski

Yield: 2 generous servings       Prep Time: 25 minutes       Cook Time: 20 minutes

4 bacon slices, cut into 1/2 inch squares

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup diced (1/3 inch) onion

1/4 cup diced (1/3 inch) green bell pepper

1/4 cup diced (1/3 inch) celery

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

1 small peeled boiling potato, diced (1/3 inch)

2 bottles (8 oz. each) clam juice

1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce (if handy)

1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, including juice

2 pin-boned, skinless Great Lakes whitefish fillets (6-8 oz. each), cut into 1 inch cubes

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Kosher salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cook bacon with olive oil in a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan, stirring over moderate heat until golden, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to moderately low. Add onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic and cook, stirring until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in potato, clam juice, fish sauce and tomatoes (with juice) and simmer covered for about 10 minutes. Stir in whitefish and simmer, covered. Stir occasionally until whitefish is cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Stir in parsley, salt and pepper to taste.




Copyright by the Board of Trustees of Northern Michigan University, 1401 Presque Isle Ave, Marquette, MI 49855 1-800-682-9797
Northern Michigan University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution.
Admissions questions | Technical questions | NMU Web Team
Updated: March 17, 2011

NMU logo