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November 10, 2012

November Fish of the Month: Yellow Perch Chowder

Your seafood choices can have a big impact on the health of our oceans and lakes—so make sure they’re positive ones! Every month, Shedd’s Right Bite team highlights a sustainable seafood item as our Fish of the Month. November’s pick is yellow perch, and we have a comfort recipe for chilly nights: yellow perch chowder.

Yellow perch from Lake Erie is on Shedd’s best choice list for sustainability. Yellow perch may be a staple local fish when you think of the Great Lakes or a Friday night fish fry, but things were not always so swell for this small fish. According to Dr. Phil Willink, Shedd’s senior research biologist, “The yellow perch populations in Lake Erie declined due to a variety of factors, including overfishing, invasive species and unfavorable weather events. Although the perch population has the capacity to be resilient, it was having a difficult time overcoming all these negative influences.”

Better management practices have led populations to recover in Lake Erie, the source of  more than 85 percent of yellow perch  taken by  both Canadian and American fisheries.  Dr. Willink explained, “The primary factor that we can control is fishing pressure. By reducing the fishing pressure, it appears that we have given the yellow perch population enough ‘breathing room’ to rebound.”

So if you are familiar with fried yellow perch, –kick-start a Midwestern tradition with this warm and fragrant fall dish for yellow perch chowder.


Yellow Perch Chowder
Serves 4 


  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms
  • 5 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 pound of yellow perch, filet into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


1. In a large stock pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. Slowly add the flour, whisking constantly to make roux. After 1 to 2 minutes, roux should have the consistency of cake frosting.
2. Add onion, sweet potatoes, celery, corn and mushrooms. Sauté until soft.
3. Add vegetable stock, yellow perch, bay leaf and thyme.
4. Bring to boil and let simmer for 5 minutes. Add milk and salt and pepper.
5. Simmer on low for an additional 10 minutes, or until all vegetables are tender.
6. Remove bay leaf and ladle into bowls. Serve warm with crusty bread.

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