Thursday 17, 2011
            MARQUETTE, Mich.—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 Northern Michigan University Professors Chris Kibit and Deborah Pearce 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, chef Nathan Mileski of NMU Dining Services and Ted Thill, owner of Thill’s Fish House. Many cookbooks are organized by categories such as appetizers, salads and main entrees. 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 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 soon be available at the NMU Bookstore. It can also be purchased online for $16.95 at www.miseagrant.com.

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).

Kibit and Pearce can be reached at 227-2190

Kristi Evans
News Director