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Also indexed as: Chain Pickerel, Muskellunge


Preparation, uses, and tips

To scale, put pike in a bucket and pour boiling water over both sides. Then place it in the sink under cold running water. Grasp the fish firmly by the gills and scrape off scales with a fish scaler or small, dull knife. Using short strokes, work from the tail to the head.

To remove the head, cut the flesh on both sides with a knife. If the fish is small, slice directly through the spine. For a larger fish, place the knife between vertebrae and tap the back of the knife with a hammer. Cut off the tail with a sharp knife.

The secret to successful pike cookery is do not overcook. Whichever of the following cooking methods you choose, your pike will be cooked when its flesh becomes opaque yet is still moist all the way through.


Place pike in a greased baking dish and place on a baking sheet. Brush with melted butter or oil and season with salt and pepper, cover with a sauce, or wrap in oiled foil. Bake in a preheated 450° F (230°C) oven until a deep knife cut reveals the flesh to be opaque yet still moist.


Place fillets on perforated foil, 4 to 6 inches (about 10 to 15cm) above prepared coals or fire. Baste with butter, oil, or marinade, and close the hood of the grill. Cook until fish is opaque and moist on the inside, about six to ten minutes.


Place seasoned and/or marinated pike on a well-greased broiler pan. Broil under preheated broiler 4 to 5 inches (about 10 to 12.5cm) from heat. Cook until fish is opaque and moist on the inside, about six to ten minutes.

Deep frying

Pour oil into a wok or deep fryer; it should be at least 1 1/2 inches (about 3.8cm) deep, and the cooker should be less than half full of oil. Heat oil to 375°F (190°C), using a thermometer to monitor temperature. Cut pike into similar-sized pieces, about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2-inch (3.2 to 3.9 cm) thick. Dip in batter, drain, then slip pieces into hot oil. Cook until brown, about two to three minutes.


Bring poaching liquid, consisting of water, broth, and herbs and spices, to a simmer. Slip in pike, then cover pan and keep liquid at a simmer for about eight to ten minutes per inch (about 2.5cm) of thickness.


Place pike on a greased perforated rack over 1 to 2 inches (about 2.5 to 5 cm) of rapidly boiling water. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and keep water at a constant boil through cooking time, eight to ten minutes per inch (about 2.5cm) of the thickness of the fish.

Buying and storing tips

Quality pike is easy to recognize. Fresh pike never smells fishy, and the eyes should appear bright and clear, almost alive. The gills should be clean, and the skin moist and with tightly adhering, shiny silver scales. Fresh pike flesh will give slightly when you press it with a finger, then spring back into shape.

When choosing pike steaks or fillets, whether they’re fresh or previously frozen, look for moist, translucent (never dried out) flesh. Keep pike cool on the trip from the market to your house. Never let it stay unrefrigerated for long.

To store pike, remove packaging, rinse fish under cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. Fish deteriorates when it sits in its own juices, so place it on a cake rack in a shallow pan filled with crushed ice. Cover with cling wrap or foil and set in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Pike will store well this way for up to two days.

Frozen pike will keep two months in a refrigerator freezer compartment and three to four months in a deep-freeze. Use lined freezer paper and wrap fish tightly from head to tail with at least two layers of paper. You can thaw the fish or cook fillets without defrosting. To thaw slowly, unwrap, place fish in pan, cover, and leave for 24 hours in the refrigerator. To thaw more quickly, place the whole fish (in a waterproof bag) in a sink with cool running water, allowing about 30 minutes per pound (450g). For fastest thawing, use the defrost cycle of your microwave, allowing two to five minutes per pound, with equal standing time in between zaps.


Most fish found at the market are northern pike from Canada. They are available whole or filleted, fresh or frozen. Chain pickerel and muskellunge are game fish.

Nutrition Highlights

Pike (cooked, dry heat), 1/2 fillet (5.5 oz.) (155.65g)
Calories: 175
Protein: 38g
Carbohydrate: 0.0g
Total Fat: 1.4g
Fiber: 0.0g
*Excellent source of: Niacin (4.3mg)
*Good source of: Calcium (113mg), Magnesium (62mg), and Potassium (513mg)

*Foods that are an “excellent source” of a particular nutrient provide 20% or more of the Recommended Daily Value. Foods that are a “good source” of a particular nutrient provide between 10 and 20% of the Recommended Daily Value.

When cooked (dry heat), Northern pike provide 0.164 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, derived from EPA (0.042g), DHA (0.095g), and ALA (0.027g), per 100 grams of Northern pike.

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