Seared Walleye Fillet with Brown Butter Caper Sauce and Spätzle

Spencer Watts takes a walleye (or in Canada they call it a pickerel) fillet and pan sears it to perfection in butter to get a gloriously crispy skin. He serves it with a spätzle and a simple but delicious brown butter caper sauce.

Serves: 4


Pan-fried Walleye:

  • 4 walleye fillets, (about 6 oz each)
  • all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) unsalted butter
  • Salt
  • 2 Tbsp (30 ml) finely-chopped parsley
  • Olive oil (for finishing dish)

Caper Butter Sauce:

  • ½ cup (120 ml) Unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 med Shallot diced
  • 2 Tbsp (30 ml) Capers, drained
  • 2 Tbsp (30 ml) Lemon juice
  • Salt & pepper, to taste


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp (2 ml) salt
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) Ground white pepper
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) Ground nutmeg
  • ¼ cup (60ml) Milk
  • 2 Tbsp (30 ml) Butter (¼ stick), divided
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) Canola oil, divided
  • 4 Tbsp (60ml) Chopped parsley


  1. Prepare the spätzle.
  2. Mix flour, salt, pepper, nutmeg, white pepper, and ½ of the herbs in a large bowl.
    Whisk eggs and milk in a separate bowl.
    Gradually pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients bowl, while whisking continually, until it forms a soft batter.
  3. Pour batter into a plastic bag, seal it, and cut a hole in the corner to use for piping.
    Pipe into a pot of boiled, salted water. When batter is cooked, it will float to the top about 1 minute Remove with a spider or slotted spoon to an oiled tray. This process should be done in stages.
    Let cool before frying, this can be done a day ahead of time.
  4. Add canola oil to a small heated pan. Add the spaetzle. Keep moving the pan so the spaetzle doesn’t stick. After about 1 minute or when spaetzle is golden brown, flip in the pan. Once crust has formed, add butter, salt, and pepper to the pan. Aside and keep warm until ready to serve.
  5. Rinse the fish fillets in cold water, drain briefly, and pat dry with paper towel.
  6. Place flour on a plate. Dust the fish in flour and place in a hot skillet with melted butter. Shake the pan as you cook the fish to help it not stick. Cook until golden brown 2 minutes. Carefully turn the fillets over and cook for another 60 seconds until the fish flakes easily when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife. Move off heat and let the fish finish cooking in the butter bath.
  7. Place a saucepan on medium heat. Add cold butter. Heat until it begins to foam. Do not stir. The butter will turn a rich, golden brown and give off a nutty aroma, about 3 minutes. Add shallots, capers, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and move off heat.
  8. Finish the butter sauce with some fresh parsley.
  9. Plate the fish on bed of späetzle. Spoon the butter caper sauce over top, and drizzle on a little olive oil.