Wild for Walleye, Italian-Style

We’re debuting a new summer menu this week at Sarello’s, and I am happy to announce that one of my all-time favorite items has swum its way back into the mix: Parmesan-Pepper Walleye.

Mention walleye to almost any local and you’ll find that we are pretty much crazy about this king of the lake. So what is about walleye that makes it such a local favorite, even for non-anglers? For starters, walleye is widely available throughout our region, even in rural areas where fresh seafood can be difficult to get.

This mild, white lake fish is extremely versatile and can be enjoyed pan-fried, deep fried, oven-baked, grilled – you name it. It is sweet and flaky, with a lightness that contrasts nicely from some richer fish varieties like sea bass or salmon.

We’ve served walleye in a variety of different ways at Sarello’s, but this parmesan-pepper preparation is by far the most popular among our guests. Our son, Gio, isn’t a big fan of fish in general, but even he can’t resist this savory local specialty when it’s prepared this way.

To begin, create a simple breadcrumb coating of Japanese breadcrumbs (a must for this recipe), black pepper, parmesan cheese, granulated garlic and salt. Dredge each walleye fillet first in flour, followed by a quick dip in egg wash, and then coat each piece completely in the breadcrumb mixture.

Next, we fry the fillets in vegetable oil over medium-high heat until golden brown all over, and then transfer them to a baking sheet to be finished off in a 400-degree oven for about 12 to 15 minutes. The breading seals in the heat and ensures that the fish stays moist.

When I prepared this recipe over the recent holiday weekend, I served it with Lemon Aioli and a Caprese Orzo Salad, a combination of flavors which just sings, “Summer is here!” This is one of our all-time favorite meals, and it was a big hit with our entire family. The walleye was crunchy, flavorful and light, and the made-from-scratch lemon aioli made a great alternative to the more conventional tartar sauce, especially for mayo-phobes like Gio and me.


The Caprese orzo salad offers flavors that are mellow, easy, and of the season, just like the walleye. Orzo is the little pasta that looks similar to rice, and we tossed it in extra-virgin olive oil with sliced grape tomatoes, cubes of fresh mozzarella cheese and a little fresh basil, creating great color on the plate.

With a little advance preparation, this is a pretty quick meal to assemble. The breadcrumbs and aioli can be prepared up to one week in advance and set aside until ready to use. Several hours before serving you can bread the walleye fillets and prepare all of the ingredients for the salad: cook the orzo, slice the tomatoes, cube the mozzarella. Give the orzo at least one hour to chill in the refrigerator before adding the other ingredients, and wait to dress it with fresh basil, olive oil and seasoning until just ready to serve.

Once you’re ready to serve, sit back and wait for the wave of oohs and aahs to begin, because this meal is always a crowd pleaser. Then pour yourself a glass of Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc, or for even more local flavor try the Bear Creek La Crescent, and savor the satisfaction of a delicious summer meal.

What’s YOUR favorite way to eat walleye? Is there a fisherman/woman in your family? Leave your answer in the Comments below. Happy Summer!

Parmesan Pepper Walleye
Lemon Aioli
Caprese Orzo Salad 


BEEF – It’s What’s for Dinner This Tuesday!

BEEF – it’s what for dinner this Tuesday night at Sarello’s!
Join us tomorrow evening for Tony’s Signature Tuesday special, featuring our Classic Filet Mignon for half-price!

Our Filet is served with Veal Demi-Glace, Whipped Potatoes and Asparagus. It’s regularly listed on the menu for $35, but this Tuesday *only* we’re featuring it for just $17.50.

Save Tuesday nights for Sarello’s!
Every Tuesday Tony will be selecting a different entrée to feature for half-price, so save Tuesday nights for Sarello’s! FYI – Tony’s first Signature Tuesday Special last week was a big hit, so reserve your table early! Call 218.287.0238 or email to dine@sarellos.com.

We LOVE to see you at Sarello’s!


St. Patrick’s Day Treats: Baileys Irish Cream Cheesecake & Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur

St. Patrick’s Day is this Monday, so we’re tipping our Irish hats to my family’s heritage for a change this week. Fortunately, Tony loves both of the recipes we’re sharing today, so I won’t be losing my Italian-by-marriage credentials anytime soon.

This week’s featured recipe is Baileys Irish Cream Cheesecake which, for Tony, equals happiness. We’ve offered this dessert at Sarello’s many times throughout the years, and the recipe is always requested whenever we do. In fact, it’s so good there’s hardly room for improvement, but I think I’ve found a way to make it even better.

Try making it with your very own, homemade Irish cream liqueur, which is surprisingly easy to create and even better than the original version. We’ve included this recipe as a special bonus, just for all you lads and lasses out there (over 21, of course). This is a foolproof endeavor as you can control the flavor by adjusting the amount of Irish whiskey and other ingredients according to your taste.

Many people find the prospect of making a cheesecake from scratch a bit intimidating. I’ll admit – I’ve had that same perception, so I turned to the talented Ben Walker, our Sous Chef at Sarello’s, who just happens to be a master of cheesecake.

Chef Ben gave me some great advice to ensure that my cheesecake turned out as good as the ones he makes for our guests. He began by stressing the importance of having all of the ingredients at room temperature before starting, as this step nearly guarantees that the right consistency is achieved when mixed together.

Use the paddle attachment of a stand mixer to combine the sugar and cream cheese until creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes. The texture should be light and smooth, so if you taste it and find that it’s grainy, gritty or lumpy, keep mixing. Add the eggs one at a time, and mix until just incorporated; Chef Ben cautioned against over-mixing the batter at this stage, which can alter the final texture of the cake.

Once all of the ingredients have been mixed together, firmly tap the bottom of the mixing bowl against the counter several times to remove any air bubbles, which helps to prevent the cake from cracking.

Next, Chef Ben recommended using a springform pan to prevent leaks and provide easy access to the cake. For easy removal, lightly coat the bottom of the pan with cooking spray, followed by a liner of parchment paper.

And finally, to fully ensure that the cheesecake is evenly cooked throughout, it must be baked in a water bath. People tend to recoil when they hear that, thinking this technique signals that the recipe is beyond their skill set. I used to be guilty of this, too. But, really, all it means is preparing a pan of water to set the cake pan in before it goes into the oven. It’s that simple, and makes a world of difference in the result.

To prevent any water from creeping inside the cake pan, Chef Ben suggested lining the outside with aluminum foil. Once the cake is baked, allow it to cool for about 30 minutes and then refrigerate until ready to serve, up to four days.

See? Cheesecake made simple, and delicious. The Irish cream liqueur is even easier to make and we won’t tell anyone if you sip as you bake. May the luck of the Irish be with you (and Chef Ben) always!

Click here for the Baileys Irish Cream Cheesecake Recipe
Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur

Do you have any favorite St. Patrick’s Day food traditions?
Let us know what you love about this fun holiday in the Comments section!

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Cooking Video: Sarello’s Red Curry Scallops

This week on North Dakota Today Tony showed the viewers how to make our Signature Sarello’s Red Curry Scallops. We featured this recipe on the blog and in our column a year ago, and you can CLICK HERE to read the article or HERE for the recipe.

CLICK on the PHOTO BELOW to watch Tony’s video presentation, and then let us know if you have any questions or comments – we LOVE to hear from our readers!