National Fish Decoy Association




Welcome to the NFDA's kitchen where you will find great 'FISH FOOD' recipes
 that will help you prepare and complement your catch.

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Easy Tarter Sauce
Almondine Butter

Smoking & Pickling
Smoke Northern Pike
Pickled Northern
Johnson's Pickled Fish

Appetizers & Dips
Pike Fries
Smoked Northern Dip
Smoke Fish Dip

Main Fish Dishes
Fish Boil
Grilled Northern Pike
Great Grilled Pike
Polish Style Pike
Minnesota Cajun Pike
Florentine Stuffed Northern Pike
Poor Man's Lobster



Easy Tartar Sauce

1 Cup Mayonnaise
1/4 Cup Onions, diced
1/4 Cup Dill  or Sweet Pickle Relish
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and refrigerate until needed.

Almondine Butter

1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup sliced almonds
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Dash cayenne pepper

In small skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add almonds. Cook and stir over medium heat until almonds are light brown, about 4 minutes. Stir in 5 tablespoons butter, the lemon juice and cayenne. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until butter melts.


Pike Fries

1 to 2 pounds pike fillets (deboned)
favorite breading
peanut oil
lemon juice

Clean and fillet pike as you would a normal fish. Take fillets and cut meat into french fry size pieces. Dip in your favorite breading and deep fry. Let cool slightly then drizzle with lemon juice and lightly salt.

Smoked Northern Pike Dip

One northern pike of 4 -6 pounds. After cutting off the head and tail and gutting, punch holes in the pike's back with a sharp knife. Then soak overnight in a brine of 1 pound salt (non-iodized), 1 pound brown sugar and 1 gallon of water. Remove the fish from brine and rinse thoroughly. Dry with a paper towel and place on a rack for 1 hour to let dry. Smoke the pike four hours at 220 degrees.

After smoking remove the skin and "Y" bones, then mash the fish with a fork.

Add 3 tablespoons of horseradish and three tablespoons of mayo.

Spread on your favorite crackers and enjoy!

Smoked Fish Dip

1 Cup dairy sour cream
1/2 Cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
1 Cup flaked smoked fish
3 Tablespoons chopped green onion
1/2 Teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Dash of garlic powder

In small bowl, blend sour cream and mayonnaise. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Serve with vegetable dippers or potato chips. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.



Smoked Northern Pike

Two 4-6 pound northern pike. Clean the fish into fillets but do not remove the skin.

Combine the following ingredients to make the dry brine:

3 C brown sugar
1 C pickling salt
2 T garlic powder
1 T course ground pepper

De-slime the fish by combining 1 cup vinegar to 1 gallon of water in a large non-metallic container.  Place each fillet in individually and gently rub until there are no signs of any slime left. Repeat process for each piece. If the water mixture becomes over powered with slime prepare a new batch.

Thoroughly coat each side of the fillets with the dry cure and place in a non-metallic container. Let sit overnight or for at least 8 hours in the refrigerator.

Wash the fillets in cold running water. Pat dry with paper towel. Sprinkle with garlic powder, black pepper and brown sugar.  (additional spices can be sprinkled on depending on your taste) Place on a rack skin side up.  Let air dry for about 1 hour. 

Place fish in prepared smoker for approximately 2 - 3 hours at 150 degrees. 

Remove fish from smoker and move directly to a 220 degree preheated oven. Leave in oven for about 1/2 hour to 1 hour. This time may vary depending on the size of your filets.

After removing fish from oven let cool to room temperature. Place in fridge for 1/2 day. Place in brown paper bag to retain moisture. Will keep in fridge for up to 2 weeks (if it lasts that long). Smoked fish is great to eat straight from the oven while it is still warm, too.

Smoking tips:

bulletNever use any wood that has been painted or treated.
bulletLength of smoking will vary with the weather. Colder temperatures and wind can add as much as 1 to 2 hours to the smoking time.
bulletWhen first learning to smoke, don't do large batches. Do several small batches using different spices, smoking times and different flavored woods to learn how you like it best.

Pickled Northern

Prepare fish by filleting into two pieces, skin removed. No need to remove bones. Cut into 1 1/2" chunks. Place fish in a non-metallic container large enough to hold the fish and cover with brine.

Brine: 1/2 cup pickling salt to every 1 quart of water

Cover the fish completely with brine and let soak for a minimum of 24 hours. Keep cold.

Drain brine off fish then cover with white vinegar for at least 12 hours.

Drain vinegar off fish. Do not save the vinegar.

Pickling Solution:

4 cups white vinegar
3 cups sugar
1 cup wine (Silver Satin works well)
2 raw onions sliced
1/4 cup pickling spice.

In large kettle, dissolve sugar  with vinegar while heating. (Do not let boil)  Once sugar is dissolved let cool. Add wine, onions and pickling spice. Place back on heat and bring to boil. Remove from heat and let cool, again.

Place fish in jars adding onions from solution as desired. Top off jar with pickling solution-enough to cover fish. Cover jars and refrigerate. Let stand approximately one week before eating. Peak flavor will be reached in about 2 weeks.

Bob Johnson is a professional Brainerd Lakes spearing guide and decoy carver.
Visit his site at

Prepare pike filets; Remove rib bones. Do not worry about the "Y" bones they will soften during the curing process. Cut fillets into bite-sized chunks. Place fish chunks in a glass bowl.

Brine Solution: (enough to do 1 - 1 ˝ pounds of fish)

1 cup picking salt
6 cups of soft or bottled water
Combine salt and water. Stir until the salt has dissolved.

Add the fish chunks to the brine. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours.

After brining, rinse the chunks with cold tap water. Place the chunks back into the bowl pour white vinegar over the fish, filling the bowl. Gently stir the chunks, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for another 12 hours.

Discard the vinegar and rinse the chunks with cold water. Fill your quart or pint glass jars with the fish chunks. You can add white onions and pimento for added taste and color.

Pickling Solution: (enough to do 1 quart of fish)

Estimate how many quarts of fish you are making and adjust this recipe accordingly.

˝ cup granulated sugar
˝ cup distilled water
1 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon pickling spices
2 - 4 cloves

Mix all the ingredients together and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes. Let cool to approximately 170 degrees Fahrenheit. (use a candy thermometer to determine the heat)

Pour solution into the jars, covering the fish. Seal the jars, and refrigerate for 5 days before eating. Shake jars once while they are curing. This fish is good for 6 weeks.

This pickling recipe also works with hard boiled eggs.



Fish Parcels
4 pieces of boneless northern fillets (cut into small pieces - 4-5")
olive oil for brushing
2 shallots, thinkly sliced
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tablespoon capers
1 large tomatoes, finely chopped
4 black olives, pitted and thinly sliced
grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon paprika
salt & freshly ground black pepper

Cut a square of aluminum foil, large enough to enclose the fish.
Brush lightly with a little olive oil.
Place fish in the center of foil and season well with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle the shallots, chopped garlic, capers, tomatoes, sliced olives and lemon rind over fish.
Sprinkle with the lemon juice and paprika.
Fold over the foil to enclose the fish loosely, sealing the edges firmly so that none of the
juices can escape during cooking. Place the parcels on a moderately hot grill and cook
for 8-10 minutes.
To serve, open the foil and transfer parcels to a serving dish.


Fish Boil - This is a great family or party meal! It can be prepared for any number of people by simply adjusting the size of the boiling pot. We use a 4 gallon stock pot and an outdoor propane fish cooker stove so there's plenty of room to really get the water boiling. 

Ingredients:  Boned Northern Pike Fillets 3 to 4 pounds, Potatoes 4 pounds, Onions 2 pounds, Water 3 gallons, Salt 1 1 Cup (1/3 cup per gallon), Old Bay Seasoning 3 Tablespoons, Butter as needed.  Serves 4 to 6 people.
You can use pieces cut from larger Pike if you want, but these pieces cut from Pike of around 3-4 pounds are perfect. Each fillet is boned, then cut into pieces for boiling.
Cut Potatoes and Onions into halves or quarters depending on size. Peel the Potatoes if you want or leave the skins on. We like the smaller size spuds with the skin on.
Add salt and Old Bay Seasoning to water, then bring water to a rolling boil. Once water is boiling, add Potatoes, boil for 12 minutes then add the onions and let the onions and potatoes boil together for another 12 minutes, then add the fish and boil all of the ingredients boil together for the final 12 minutes. Drain the fish, potatoes and onions into a colander and serve hot with melted butter.
This recipe is compliments of Jeff Sundin
"Minnesota's Hardest Working Fishing Guide"

Grilled Northern Pike Recipe

(5 - 7 pound Northern is best)

Fillet the Northern and remove the Y bones. Place whole fillet on tin foil that has been greased with cooking spray or butter. Baste fish with a combination of lemon pepper and melted butter. The size of the fillet will determine how long you need to leave on the grill. When the fish easily flakes apart it should be done.


Polish Style Pike

2 carrots
2 celery stocks
1 onion quartered
10 peppercorns
1 bay leaf
2  t salt
1 northern pike deboned

1/4 c butter
1 T fresh chopped dill
3/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1/4 c lemon juice
6 finely chopped hardboiled eggs (peeled)

Combine fish, vegetables, dry seasonings, and enough water to cover in a saucepan or pot. Boil gently for about 15 to 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily.

Meanwhile start the topping. Heat the butter in a skillet. Add the chopped eggs, lemon juice, dill, salt and pepper. Cook 5 minutes, stirring often.

When the fish is cooked, set it on a warm platter and spoon the topping of the fish.

Great served with rice or warm potatoes.  Serves 6

Great Grilled Pike

1 t canola oil
6 T pine nuts
2 T butter
1 cucumber peeled and seeded
6 scallions sliced diagonally
3 to 4 pounds pike fillets
 1 t salt and fresh ground pepper
1 lemon cut in wedges

Prepare charcoal fire. Brown pine nuts by heating in oil on skillet over medium-low heat. Heat, stirring constantly, for 1 minute or until golden brown. Transfer nuts to a paper towel. Set aside. Melt butter in same skillet and saute vegetables. Add cucumber. Continue to saute over low heat for 10 - 15 minutes or until translucent. Add scallions. Saute for 2 more minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in pine nuts. Keep warm.

When charcoal is gray and hot, lay fish fillets on grate. Grill for 6 to 8 minutes on each side or until the fish is tender, flaky and translucent.

Season fish with salt and pepper.

Just before serving squeeze fresh lemon juice over fish. Ladle cucumber mixture over fish. Garnish with extra lemon wedges.

Garlic bread, light tossed salad and a cold lemonade (or beer) make a terrific addition to this dish.

Minnesota Cajun Pike Recipe - From the Early Bird Guide, Jeff Sundin

Catching Northern Pike in the Grand Rapids area has new meaning for folks who have tried my "semi blackened Pike". Sometimes I refer to this jokingly as "Norwegian Style Cajun" because we prepare it using only a light coat of seasoning. Once you try this, you'll be back for more and I guarantee this will be a hit with your friends and family.

A delicious and healthful way to prepare Pike of 2 to 3 pounds in size. The ingredients are simple and the finished product is light and mouth watering. This is the "tenderloin" of freshwater fish dishes.

*We strongly recommend preparing this dish outside using a propane cooker.

Ingredients: Pike fillets boned and cut into thirds, Olive Oil, Louisiana Cajun Spice Mix (or substitute your favorite spice mix). If you don't care for the spicy version. Just use a little lemon pepper and a dash of salt.

Minnesota Cajun Pike

1) Prepare the fillets by cutting them into thirds and coating them with Olive oil. Use only enough olive oil to lightly coat each fillet to prevent sticking in the hot pan. You do not need any only in the pan!

2) Lightly sprinkle each fillet with spice mix prior to placing in the frying pan.

3) Pre-heat a cast iron (best), steel or other non-teflon-coated frying pan under high heat without oil. You'll know it's ready when you begin to see smoke coming from the dry pan. Sear the Northern Pike fillets for a few minutes on each side until fish is cooked, but do not over-cook fish until it dries out. Fillets should be served juicy and hot!


This simple, healthful and delicious dish can be prepared in just a few minutes and it only takes a couple of these small Pike make a great meal for my family of four.

Florentine-Stuffed Northern Pike

(makes 6 - 8 servings)

2 packages (10 oz. each) frozen chopped spinach, thawed
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/3 cup herb-seasoned stuffing mix
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 jar (2 oz.) sliced pimiento, drained
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
2 northern pike or other lean fish fillets 1 pound each, about 3/4-inch thick, skin removed
Almondine Butter (see recipe in condiments)

Drain thawed spinach in colander, pressing out excess moisture. Set aside.

In 9" skillet, cook and stir mushrooms in olive oil over medium heat until tender.

Combine mushrooms, spinach, ricotta cheese, beaten egg, stuffing mix, Parmesan cheese, pimiento, salt, pepper, basil and onion powder in a medium bowl. Mix well. Set aside.

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease broiler pan. Place on fillet on pan. Spread about half of the spinach stuffing on the fillet.

Cut a slit lengthwise through middle of other fillet, leaving 3 inches uncut on each end. Place on top of spinach and other fillet. Spoon the remaining spinach stuffing in center of split fillet.

Prepare Almondine Butter. Spoon half of butter over fish. Sprinkle with paprika. Bank until both fillets flake easily at thickest part, 35 - 40 minutes. Serve with remaining butter.

Poor Man's Lobster

2 1/2 cups hot water
1/2 cup white wine
1 small onion, sliced
4 lemon slices
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon whole peppercorns
1 small bay leaf
1 1/2 pounds northern pike fillets, about 3/4 inch thick, skin removed

In 10" skillet, combine water, white wine, onion, lemon slices, salt, peppercorns and bay leaf. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Cut fish into 1 1/2 inch chunks; add to liquid. Cover and cook over medium heat, occasionally stirring gently until fish flakes easily at thickest part. Serve with melted butter and fresh lemon wedges, if desired.

Trout with Bacon
4 trout, cleaned and gutted
1 T all purpose flour
4 slices lean smoked bacon
2 T olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the trout on a chopping board and pat dry with paper towels.
Season the flour with the salt and pepper.
Stretch the bacon slices out thinly using the back of a heavy kitchen knife.
Roll the fish in the seasoned flour mixture and wrap tightly in the bacon slices.
Brush with olive oil and cook on a medium-hot grill for 10-15 minutes, turning once.
Serve at once, with the lemon juice drizzled on top



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 Last modified: 02/04/17
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