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Chef Jonathon Sawyer's Walleye Pike Quenelles with Tomatoes

One of my absolute favorite food memories from France is that of Pierre Gaillard's wife making freshwater pike quenelles. For more than forty years, the Gaillard family ha been producing regal Cote-Rotie and Condrieu wines on the sun-soaked slopes along the Rhone river at angles that are treacherous even by mountain-goat standards, yet the wines they yield are soft, subtle, supple and velvety wonders. The risk is worth the reward.

During this particular trip, Pierre's wife procured the fish for the quenelles in one of the most awesome ways I've ever heard. When she went down to the river, she spotted the pike's beady eyes poking out from the water and, in one fell swoop, snatched the fish and plopped it into her other hand, butchering it right then. Back in the kitchen, she turned it into a fine mousse and combined it with some milky white pate a choux she pulled from the fridge. Then, she whipped out the quenelle spoons to form it into the three-ish-sided football that is the characteristic shape. It was incredible.

Here's my homage to those incredible quenelles. Like the Red Wine Vinegar Soubise I make, this tomato sauce is naturally onion-sweet and tastes balanced at every temperature. I would recommend using it as a sauce for any protein, but not on your pasta or pizza. - Chef Jonathon Sawyer

How to Make


Grilled Out-Of-Season Tomato Sauce

  • 8 Roma tomatoes (as ripe as can be expected out of season), halved
  • 1 small yellow onion, halved
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar


  • 2 1/4 pounds walleye pike, perch, bass or other white freshwater fish fillets
  • 1/2 cup Smith's heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 cup water, plus 1 gallon
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, plus 2 tablespoons
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, plus 4 egg yolks


  1. To make the tomato sauce: Preheat the grill to high.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, onion, and olive oil; toss to mix; and season aggressively with salt and pepper.
  3. Put the vegetables on the grill and let them develop and intense char on one side, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool, then cut them into 1/4-inch slices.
  4. In a saute pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the charred tomatoes and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until they soften and start to break down, about 30 minutes. Then, transfer the mixture to a to a food processor, add the vinegar, and carefully puree. Set aside and let cool.
  5. To make the quenelles: Using a fillet knife, clean the fish of its skin, blood line (the length of of blood-rich muscle that runs parallel to the spine and situated right under the skin; it can very very strongly flavored and take on an unappealing color when cooked), and any blemishes.
  6. In a food processor, combine the flesh, Smith's heavy cream, and fish sauce and puree until smooth. Remove the fish mousse from the processor and set aside in the refrigerator.
  7. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the 1 cup water, 3/4 cup butter, and 2 tablespoons salt and quickly bring to a boil. Stirring constantly, sift the flour, then turn the heat to medium and cook until the mixture begins pulling away from the side of the pan. Continue to cook for 3 minutes more, allowing some evaporation to occur.
  8. Transfer the warm mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. On medium speed, slowly incorporate the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time. Transfer the resulting pate a choux to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let cool in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  9. Once the choux is cool, fold in the fish mousse to form a batter.
  10. In a large stockpot, bring the 1 gallon of water to a simmer, season with salt, and then add the batter to the water, a spoonful at a time. Slowly poach the quenelles until they float to the surface, 4 to 6 minutes.
  11. Meanwhile, in a medium saute pan over medium-low heat, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter.
  12. Once poached, transfer the cooked quenelles to the saute pan and toss to coat with butter. Top the quenelles with the reserved tomato sauce and allow guests to serve themselves from the pan.


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