Growing up along the St. Lawrence in Eastern Ontario, meant enjoying many of the recreational opportunities this magnificent river provided. One of the best spots for fishing along the river is on the widening between Glen Walter and Valleyfield called Lake St. Francis.
Generations of hard-working locals would escape on weekends and during summer vacation to cottages and boats along this stretch of the river. They would get out on the river early, when it was calm, before the scorching summer sun and hope that the fish were biting. They were usually after perch but often hooked pickerel, pike, bass or the odd eel. Nowadays, the perch aren’t quite as abundant and pricey perch platters and perch rolls are only sold, when available, at a handful of local restaurants. If you’re lucky enough to catch your own, you’ll want to enjoy the distinct succulent, almost sweet flavour of the fresh perch caught along this segment of the river, in a traditional perch roll.
The local way of serving fresh perch has been to filet it, dredge it in flour, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then pan fry in butter for a couple of minutes per side. At this point you could either serve a perch platter or make a perch roll topped with perch roll sauce. While recipes vary a bit, I think our family recipe is the closest to being perfect.
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Lancaster Perch Rolls
- 1 egg
- ½ tsp dry mustard
- ½ cup milk
- 1½ tbsp flour
- ¼ cup white sugar
- ½ cup white vinegar
- 1 lb freshwater perch or pickerel
- ½ cup flour
- 2 tbsp butter
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 6-8 hot dog buns
Prepare the sauce
- In a small saucepan, whisk together the egg, mustard, milk and flour. Cook on medium heat until thickened, stirring frequently.
- Add the white sugar and vinegar to a large mug and microwave for about 30 seconds to dissolve the sugar. A double boiler may also be used to warm and dissolve the sugar.
- Stir the vinegar and sugar mixture into to the remaining sauce ingredients and simmer for a few minutes.
Prepare the fish and buns
- Filet the fresh fish, wash and pat dry, then sprinkle with salt and pepper
- Dredge the fish in flour.
- Add the butter to a frying pan and fry the fish for about 2 minutes per side.
- Toast the buns, add the fish to the buns and top generously with the sauce.