PHOTO: John D. Ivanko/
John D. Ivanko
November 13, 2013

Chef Keith Schockling knows the secret ingredient when sourcing fish: Listen to the fishermen. We met Chef Keith, executive chef and the culinary visionary behind the restaurants at Mission Point Resort on Mackinac Island, Mich., a few days after the Mackinac Island Fudge Festival. He knows if the Mackinaw Fish Company calls with whitefish from Lake Huron, you can’t go wrong with a recipe as long as your focus remains on the fish.

“The best food is so simple,” Chef Keith says. We farmstead chefs agree, welcoming some pointers from Chef Keith, who helps serve up more than 40 pounds of fish a day.

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Tip1 : Select the best fish.

“The flesh should be firm; the fish eyes clear,” Chef Keith advises. “Cloudy eyes mean that the fish has been sitting around for a while. If you are shopping at a fish counter, you want to see ice on top of the fish. You don’t want it soaking in melted ice water that makes the fish soft. Fresh fish, of course, is always the best. While we only select fresh fish for our restaurants, whitefish does freeze well. If you find that you need to use frozen fish, just make sure you let it thaw completely before you begin cooking it.”

Tip 2: Determine proper doneness.

The key to preparing whitefish well is knowing when it’s done. “The flesh should be opaque,” Keith explains. “When you insert a fork, the fish should pull apart into large flakes.”

His whitefish-risotto entrée is a best-seller at the upscale Chianti at Mission Point. Not far behind are his smoked whitefish dip served at the casual Round Island Bar & Grill and the pan roasted whitefish served at the Bistro. Mission Point’s restaurants each showcase whitefish variations on their menu.

Here’s the line-up of Chef Keith’s delicious preparations:

Smoked Whitefish Dip

Secrets to Delicious Whitefish - Photo by John D. Ivanko/ (

Pan Roasted Lake Huron Whitefish

Secrets to Delicious Whitefish - Photo by John D. Ivanko/ (

Whitefish and Chips

Secrets to Delicious Whitefish - Photo by John D. Ivanko/ (

Crispy Whitefish SandwichBaked Whitefish

Secrets to Delicious Whitefish - Photo by John D. Ivanko/ (

Secrets to Delicious Whitefish - Photo by John D. Ivanko/ (
Without a doubt, Chef Keith’s Lake Huron whitefish—semolina-dusted and pan-seared, served on a bed of creamy risotto and tender asparagus, and topped with a tomato-based pescatore sauce —had us at first bite. Lucky for us all, Chef Keith shared his recipe.”We’re trying to bring the food culture here,” says Chef Keith, who receives a lot of encouragement to be creative with the menu from Mission Point Resort’s General Manager Bradley McCallum. Besides expanding their sourcing of regional foods, they have a smokehouse for their meats with pulled pork and ribs, both house favorites. They even make their own pickles instead of using the ones out of a jar.

Recipe: Semolina-dusted Lake Huron Whitefish

Courtesy Executive Chef Keith Schockling, Chianti at Mission Point, Mission Point Resort

Secrets to Delicious Whitefish - Photo by John D. Ivanko/ (

Yield: 4 servings


Asparagus Risotto

  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 cups Aborio rice
  • 3 ounces white wine
  • 1 cup asparagus, blanched and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 2 T. cheese mascarpone
  • 2 T. Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped

Pescatore Sauce

  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. garlic, chopped
  • 2 T. white wine
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped

Herb Oil

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, loosely packed
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, loosely packed
  • 1/4 cup fresh spinach, loosely packed
  • 1/4 cup baby spinach, loosely packed

Seasoned Semolina Flour

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup semolina flour
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 1 T. cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt

Semolina Whitefish

  • 1/3 cups olive oil
  • 4 7- to 8-ounce whitefish filets, trimmed and cut in half
  • 1/8 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • seasoned semolina flour, as needed (see recipe above)
  • 2 cups asparagus risotto, divided onto four plates (see recipe above)
  • 1 cup pescatore sauce (see recipe above)
  • 2 tsp. herb oil (see recipe above)
  • shaved Parmesan cheese (to garnish)


Asparagus Risotto
In sauce pan, heat chicken stock.

In separate sauce pot, heat the oil and sweat onions and garlic. Add rice and toast without browning ingredients. Add white wine and cook until liquid is almost gone. Ladle in 1/4 of the chicken stock into the rice. Stir frequently. Continue ladling in stock until you reach desired rice texture; it should be creamy but slightly al dente.

Add remaining ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pescatore Sauce
In sauté pan, heat oil. Sauté garlic and deglaze with white wine. Add marinara sauce. Finish with salt, pepper and fresh herbs.

Herb Oil
Strip parsley and basil leaves from stems. Place all herbs and baby spinach in a blender with half of the oil. Blend thoroughly until herbs form a paste. Add remaining oil. Blend to combine, place in a plastic-sealed container until needed.

Seasoned Semolina Flour
Mix all ingredients until thoroughly combined. Store in container until ready to use.

Semolina Whitefish
Heat olive oil in sauté pan.

Season the fish with salt and pepper, and dredge in seasoned flour.

Cook the skin-side down in the sauté pan until 3/4 of the way cooked. Flip and cook until done.

Place asparagus risotto on center of each plate. Lay fish on top of risotto. Drizzle sauce on top of fish. Garnish with shaved Parmesan cheese and herb oil.

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