The Goldeye is a mid-sized fish, typically weighing between 1 to 2 pounds, with an elongated body and a forked tail. Its standout feature is its striking eyes, which have a unique golden hue. Goldeyes are primarily found in clean, slow-moving waters like rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. They feed on smaller fish, insects, and plankton.
In Alberta, the Goldeye fish thrives in waters where there's an abundance of food and where the water quality is good. Their presence is often seen as an indicator of a healthy water ecosystem. In terms of reproduction, Goldeyes are broadcast spawners, releasing their eggs into the water where they float until they hatch.
The Goldeye has been a part of the Alberta ecosystem for centuries and holds significance for both Indigenous communities and early European settlers. Indigenous peoples fish for Goldeye and use various preservation methods, including smoking, to ensure a steady food supply. With the arrival of European settlers, Goldeye became a commercially valuable fish, with its smoked version becoming particularly popular.
Over time, the Goldeye fishery has seen its ups and downs, with overfishing being a concern during certain periods. However, sustainable fishing practices and regulations have been implemented to ensure that the Goldeye population remains healthy and vibrant in Alberta's waters.
The delicate, slightly oily flesh of the Goldeye lends itself to a variety of culinary applications:
- Smoking: One of the most traditional and popular ways to prepare Goldeye is by smoking. The process imparts a rich, smoky flavor to the fish, which can then be served as is or used in various dishes.
- Grilling: The firm flesh of Goldeye holds up well on the grill. Marinating the fish in herbs and citrus flavors before grilling can enhance its taste.
- Baking: Baked Goldeye, seasoned with simple ingredients like lemon, garlic, and dill, is a healthy and delicious option.
- Pan-frying: Goldeye fillets can be lightly breaded and pan-fried for a crispy exterior and tender interior.
- Pickling: Pickled Goldeye is a delicacy in some regions, offering a tangy and flavorful experience.
- Ceviche: The fresh, clean taste of Goldeye works well in ceviche, where the fish is "cooked" in citrus juices and mixed with fresh herbs and vegetables.
When preparing Goldeye, it's essential to ensure that the fish is fresh and sourced sustainably. Its delicate flavor pairs well with simple seasonings that don't overpower its natural taste.