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Estonian fisher: Now is the best time to eat pikeperch

The Sander lucioperca, or pikeperch, was chosen as Estonia's 2024 Fish of the Year.
The Sander lucioperca, or pikeperch, was chosen as Estonia's 2024 Fish of the Year. Source: Aimar Rakko/Kalastaja

Right now is the perfect time of year to eat pikeperch – voted Estonia's 2024 Fish of the Year – as sea ice on Pärnu Bay helps keep seals from eating the fish caught in nets, coastal fisher Tarmo Luks said in an appearance on ETV current events show "Ringvaade" Wednesday, where he shared tips for making pikeperch soup.

"The pikeperch is the uncrowned king of Estonian fish," Luks said. "Because for somewhere by the seaside, we don't have many tender, white, low-fat fish; there's perch and pikeperch. But the pikeperch is big and easy to clean."

He noted that it's pretty difficult to catch fish in Pärnu Bay right now.

"That's because right now you can only catch pikeperch using gillnets and under the ice, once the entire bay is iced over," he explained. "You're not going to catch them with a trap and in open water in summer because seals will come eat them before the fishers [can get to them]. If the bay is frozen, seals won't enter the bay, and we're able to catch pikeperch. So right now is the bes time to eat pikeperch."

"A kilogram of fresh caught pikeperch could go for €7," Luks said. "You lose half the fish when filleting, but for soup I only removed the gills and innards; everything else – the skin, spine and head – can be wrapped in gauze and it will make for a good broth. The skin gives a nice flavor to the soup."

Coastal fisher Tarmo Luks talking about cooking pikeperch on ETV's "Ringvaade" on Wednesday evening. January 11, 2024. Source: ERR

He said he likes it when the soup base is ready, he can fry the fish on a pan and then add the filet after first ladling the soup base into a bowl.

"This tender fish would turn into mush in a pot," the fisher explained. "Otherwise it's best to fry a fillet skin-on. Place the fillet in the pan skin side down, and then fry the fish in plenty of butter for just a couple of minutes max. Only fry it on the skin side. Then you flip the fillet over for only a moment to allow those muscle fibers to separate. You can throw some herbs in the pan too."

In his experience, it's fish carcasses and scale-on skin that give the broth such a delicious flavor. "You certainly won't get as good a bowl of soup making it with bouillon cubes," he added.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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