Homemade Pizza School

Updated: December 10, 2023

Reading Time: 4 Minutes

How to Use Fresh Freshwater Fish on Pizza

It’s summertime, and up where we live in Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes, that means it is time to get out on the water. Fishing is a popular pastime up here, and sometimes we have an abundance of freshwater fish and look for diverse ways to use it. And, of course, pizza always comes to our minds.

Fish on pizza is nothing new. We have looked at seafood on pizza and tinned fish like tuna, smoked oysters, and even anchovies on homemade pizza. But we haven’t looked at freshwater fish on pizza. 

freshwater fish on pizza
Photo by Harris Vo on Unsplash

While we have gone fishing with friends and family over the years, we aren’t out on the water as much as we would like, but that doesn’t mean we don’t get to eat freshwater fish. We have friends and family that are avid fishermen and women who are generous with their catch, and we get some fantastic freshwater fish.

And our favorite: friends’ families who have cabins “up north” in Minnesota or Wisconsin, close to all those pizza farms. Whenever we have a cabin weekend with friends, we love indulging in as much lake fish as we can.

What Are Fresh Water Fish?

freshwater fish on homemade pizza
Photo by Hunter Brumels on Unsplash

Freshwater fish is fish that you catch in lakes and rivers. Some popular freshwater fish to catch and eat are walleye, trout, kokanee, steelhead, salmon, bass, sturgeon, catfish, perch, crappie, and pike. 🐟

Obviously, this is not a list of all the freshwater fish in the U.S., but these are some of the most common ones we come across. We are pizza experts, not fish experts, but we have learned the best ways to use freshwater fish on pizza!

How to Use Freshwater Fish on Pizza

lake and river freshwater fish on pizza
Photo by Jeremy Stewart on Unsplash

Smoking Fish

Smoked freshwater fish is one of our favorite ways to add freshwater fish to pizza. If you are lucky enough to have a pizza oven that also functions as a smoker, then you are all set to start smoking fish. And if you love grilling pizzas, many grills double as smokers, too. Here are a few we like:

Smoking fish takes a bit of trial and error. You will need to adjust the times for different types of fish. But the number one most important first step to smoking fish is to brine it for several hours before smoking. There are several types of brines, and it really comes down to taste.

Would you prefer the fish to have a sweet smokiness or a tangy spiciness with a sweet aftertaste? Just like pizza, brines come in all flavors. Here are two brines that we love. Each is for four to five fillets with skin on.

Mix everything together and let it cool. Then marinate fish for 6-8 hours covered in the refrigerator. Pat dry before smoking and discard the brine.

Another brine that is excellent on freshwater fish.

There are many brine recipes, from simple sugar salt solutions to using citrus like lemon and orange or sweet juices like orange, apple, or pineapple.

Soy sauce or teriyaki sauce add some umami and sriracha, hot sauce and barbecue sauce can level up the flavor. Sugar and salt are always the base, but from there, you can really mix and match flavors.

Grilled, Steamed, and Baked Fish

If you don’t have a smoker, then you can cook fish in other ways. The key to adding freshwater fish to pizza is that it must be cooked first. You can grill, steam, fry, or bake it before adding it to the pizza. Cooking times will vary depending on the fish type and the filet’s thickness.

Favorite Freshwater Fish Pizzas

fresh lake fish on homemade pizza with lemon
  • Smoked trout with mushrooms and lemon garlic sauce
  • Fried catfish with red peppers and sweet onions
  • Grilled kokanee with pineapple, jalapeños, and barbecue sauce
  • Smoked walleye with gouda cheese, and arugula
  • Steamed sturgeon with capers and scallions
  • Baked perch with roasted garlic and shrimp
  • Grilled crappie with anchovies and fresh tomatoes
  • Smoked bass with roasted garlic, fresh arugula, and olives
  • Fried pike with fresh tomatoes, red onions, and a tartar sauce drizzle
  • Smoked steelhead with red onions, capers, and lemon garlic sauce

Freshwater Fish on Pizza as Base Sauce

Recently we were at a friend’s barbecue, and she made mini freshwater fish pizzas with the fish as the base. So with her permission, we wanted to share this unique way to use freshwater fish to make pizza. 

Pat fish filet dry and lightly bread them with either flour or panko. Sauté fish fillets in a pan with oil. When they are done, set aside on paper towels to cool and let the oil absorb. When cool to the touch, spread tomato sauce on the fillet and sprinkle with your favorite cheese. We suggest slices of fresh mozzarella, grated mozzarella, smoked gouda, or grated Parmigiano Reggiano, our favorite is fresh parmesan

Pro Tip

  • Make them small for savory appetizers.
  • Use pesto instead of tomato sauce.
  • Use a firmer fish so they won’t fall apart.
  • Serve in a lettuce cup for an easy hand-held appetizer.

Have you tried freshwater fish on pizza? What is your favorite way to prepare fresh fish? Can you incorporate it into your pizza prep routine?

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DK & Eliana

DK & Eliana

Thanks for reading about our homemade pizza journey! We're a young married couple who started making pizza at home on our wedding night and haven't looked back yet. We've learned over countless attempts of trial and error how to make the perfect pizza sauce, pizza dough, and exactly which pizza accessories to buy for your home setup...

FYI When you make a purchase or, sometimes, carry out some other action as direct result of clicking on a link at Homemade Pizza School, we will receive a small commission. Gratzie!

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