Walleye à la bordelaise… or more than a dish.

I truly believe that certain dishes are telling a story. I am sure that all the cooks and foodies of this page have one or several dishes that remind them of somebody, a parent, a friend… or something, a happy event, or a sad one… Proust would call this a madeleine… and I have plenty of madeleines.

But this dish is special, not by itself, very simple, very basic, just a seared walleye fillet with a shallot / Bordeaux wine sauce… But here it is. I was born in Bordeaux, France, and Ardis, my wife is from Sandusky, Ohio. She got me into the walleye, which is a fish I didn’t know till I moved in Ohio. But there is a fresh water fish from the same family, the “sandre”, in those rivers near Libourne where I was fishing as a kid. “Sandre à la bordelaise” is a local specialty. Hence the idea of the “walleye à la bordelaise”… telling the story of how Ardis and I met more than 40 years ago and how, against all the odds, a fish from the Lake Erie and a bottle of Bordeaux reconnected many years later…

The recipe? I just chopped and (slowly) sauteed a big shallot head (i.e. the 2 cloves, recipe for 2) in (a lot of ) butter, till translucent/lightly colored, reserved them. Rubbed my walleye fillets (keeping the skin) in flour and seared them almost "à l'unilatéral" (I guess it is self comprehensive, meaning seared on the skin side just to give crispiness to the skin, and just a few seconds on the "meat" side to color it. It shall not be overcooked. Reserved. Deglazed the frying pan with Bordeaux wine (1/2 glass maybe, maybe more :)) and added my shallots. Reduced till obtaining a more "syrupy" consistency. Served with plain rice (basmati in this case) cooked "à la créole" (just cooked like pasta, no addition, not even butter, the sauce will do it). Served of course with the Bordeaux wine (in this case a Château Divon 2011, a Saint-Georges Saint-Émilion, in fact, not very far from where I was fishing the eels as a kid), a good deal at my favorite grocery store.
Or a little variation as on the top picture: add some mushrooms to the shallots (here dried porcini, and the rice was flavored with the mushroom soaking water).

And if there should be a moral to this story, it is that fish and red wine could be a very good match


  1. Your madeleine is downright Proustian. Lovely story, beautiful dish!


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