- Associated Press - Saturday, July 19, 2014

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) - Like many fellow Minnesotans, some of Chef Lucia Watson’s earliest culinary memories are snacking on fish at her north woods cabin.

The owner of the award-winning Minneapolis restaurant Lucia’s recalls having a shore lunch - cleaning, cooking and eating fish the same day it was caught.

“The fresher, the better,” said Watson, author of the recipe book “Cooking Freshwater Fish.”

“If you catch it yourself, it’s uber fresh. And there’s nothing like it.”

The Land of 10,000 Lakes has more than 3.8 million acres of fishable waters. There are 158 different Minnesota fish species.

And cooking one’s catch has long been a popular hobby.

“Most anglers get into the sport as a matter of catching and keeping some of their fish,” said Doug Stange, editor-in-chief of In-Fisherman magazine based in Brainerd.

“We want to continue the tradition of eating fish and harvesting a resource that’s renewable.”

Watson often features local fish in her restaurant, where her menu changes weekly. She’s worked with walleye - the official state fish of Minnesota - trout and Lake Superior-harvested fish.

Watson, who has had readers attempt every recipe in her book, still cooks fish for herself.

“I’m most inspired to cook seasonally,” she told the St. Cloud Times (http://on.sctimes.com/1wsb2eK). “In the heat of August, I might make a cornmeal crusted salmon. In February, I’m more inclined to bake fish and serve it with wild rice.”

Fish is known for being a healthful meal.

It contains omega-3 fatty acids, a nutrient that reduces the risk of heart disease and lowers inflammation in the body. It’s a high-protein source that’s lower in calories than other meats.

And a 2007 Harvard study recommended eating up to two fish portions a week because eating fish can cut the risk of heart disease by a third.

“I think the most important thing for people to know is that eating fish is good for you,” said Pat McCann of the Minnesota Department of Health.

Story Continues →