“Everybody always wants to use beer or milk to make a fish batter,” Larry Hiers told me as he dumped half a bottle of Louisiana Hot Sauce into a dry mix of tempura and beer batter. “I don’t want to taste milk or beer. I want to taste the fish and whatever spices I added to the dry batter. That’s why I only mix fry batters with cold water. It also helps it stick much better than beer or milk.” Then he sliced my fresh walleye fillets into bite-size chunks.
Hiers is the owner and head chef at the Mashie Niblick, a restaurant on Nebraska’s Lake McConaughy. Walleye is a frequent special on his menu, though Hiers imports his fish from Canada. But he was thrilled when I brought him two ‘eyes right from the lake caught just a few hours earlier. Rather than go fancy, Hiers kept things simple, opting to use the fish to make some appetizers. After a hard day of Lindy rigging and filming a Hook Shots epsiode, we were in Miller mood. Nothing could have possibly gone better than a basket of Hier’s spicy Walleye McNuggets. – Joe Cermele
Spicy Walleye McNuggets
Serves 4 to 6
2 to 3 pounds of fresh walleye fillets, cut into “McNugget-size” chunks
1 box dry tempura batter
1 box dry beer batter
1/4-cup hot sauce (Hier’s prefers Louisiana Hot Sauce as it is flavorful without being overly spicy. Choose your favorite and add more to taste)
1/4-cup Old Bay Seasoning
2 tbsp onion powder
Combine the dry batters, hot sauce, onion powder and Old Bay in a mixing bowl. Add just enough cold water for a consistency that will coat the back of a spoon and slide off slowly. The batter should be pink in color. Submerge the walleye chunks in the mixture and let it set in the refrigerator for at least two hours. Preheat peanut or vegetable oil to 400 degrees, then carefully slide in the walleye chunks and fry to a golden brown.
Given that this dish is best served with a frosty brew, no need to overthink the dip. Hier’s busted out a mighty fine pomegranate vinaigrette, but ranch dressing, spicy mustard, or chipotle mayo all work well.