Cookbook Reviews

While we Michiganders can’t claim whitefish as ours alone, it is a Great Lakes product. Wild Caught and Close to Home is loaded with ideas for making whitefish, or any fish, even more special.

If there’s one iconic fish of Michigan, it’s got to be whitefish. These lightly-flavored fish have been feeding the people of the Great Lakes region for thousands of years.

And now, for us modern folks, Wild Caught and Close to Home is a resource to help us learn what our ancestors took for granted. This cookbook was the brainchild of Chef Deborah Pearce, Assistant Professor in the Hospitality Program at Northern Michigan University. She spear-headed the project along with co-editor Chef Chris Kibit. They gathered recipes from 17 chefs and cooks from across Michigan and other Great Lakes states. The techniques and recipes they published reflect the versatility of whitefish. 

If you need a photo of the finished product for inspiration, you won’t find one for every recipe. But there is a sampling of beautiful photographs, one at the beginning of each chapter. Recipes are organized according to preparation techniques into 6 chapters. Each chapter begins with specific information on the technique. For example, the chapter on roasting and baking includes “In Parchment” instructions with pictures for a step-by-step visual lesson on how to wrap your fish. Each chapter includes between 7 and 14 recipes.  

True to its name, this cookbook includes details on purchasing, handling, and storing whitefish. Attention to detail is what you might expect from these culinary educators.  

Little things mean a lot when it comes to cookbooks. When following a recipe, you’ll appreciate that this book is spiral-bound—it lays flat on the counter while you cook. All the recipes have clearly outlined ingredients and preparation instructions including prep and cook times. 

I prepared the Fried Whitefish Tacos for out-of-town guests. They got rave reviews--worthy of an encore presentation!  

This cookbook was brought to you by Michigan Sea Grant, a cooperative program of the University of Michigan and Michigan State University. Michigan Sea Grant is one of 30 member institutions called Sea Grant colleges instituted in 1966 when Congress passed the National Sea Grand College Program Act. While the name was selected to draw a parallel with the land grant college program, the two are entirely separate. The National Sea Grant College Program is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) within the US Department of Commerce.

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