Amber Mae’s baked whitefish with garlic scape pesto

Photo: Amber Mae Petersen

If you stop by the Muskegon Farmers Market on a Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday during market season, you’ll find more than the usual array of zucchinis and jam. The Fish Monger’s Wife will be ready in Stall 91 with a load of fresh-caught Lake Michigan fish and other mouth-watering seafood products.

Amber Mae Petersen’s identity is also her business model. Married to a fourth-generation commercial fisherman, she launched The Fish Monger’s Wife in 2010 when she hauled an ice chest full of her husband’s fish to the farmers market. Since then, The Fish Monger’s Wife has blossomed into a retail storefront on Muskegon’s West Sherman Boulevard and a regular presence at the farmers market (addresses and hours here).

Whether you’re craving smoked whitefish, savory dips, fresh salmon for the grill, or saltwater seafood from farther afield, The Fish Monger’s Wife is a great resource in West Michigan. Amber Mae also likes to share her love of fresh Great Lakes seafood by posting recipes on the business’s website. She graciously allowed Freshwater Feasts to reprint her delectable recipe for grilled or baked whitefish with an Italian flair.

The recipe calls for a pesto made with garlic scapes, the green stalks that grow out of garlic bulbs. If you can’t find scapes, don’t worry — ordinary garlic cloves will be just as tasty.

Photo: Amber Mae Petersen
Photo: Amber Mae Petersen

Amber Mae’s baked or grilled whitefish with garlic scape pesto

Serves: 2


1 pound whitefish or salmon fillet

1 tomato, sliced

1/4 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced

4 cups Swiss chard

2 cups basil leaves

3/4 cup garlic scapes (or 2 tablespoons garlic, minced)

1/3 cup olive oil

2/3 cup water

1 lemon, juiced

Salt and black pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a food processor, combine chard, basil, garlic scapes (or minced garlic), a pinch of salt, and water. Mix on medium speed while slowly adding olive oil. After all the oil is added, mix on high until greens are the consistency of pesto. Store any extra pesto in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
  3. Lay fish fillets skin-down on a sheet of aluminum foil in a baking pan. Lightly salt and pepper fillets to taste.
  4. Spread pesto mixture over fish, coating the fillets evenly.
  5. Layer tomatoes and mozzarella cheese slices over fish fillets.
  6. Bake fillets at 375 degrees for 12 minutes. After that, check every 2 minutes until fillets are flaky. Or grill fillets on medium-high heat for 10 minutes. After that, check every 2 minutes until fillets are flaky.
  7. Enjoy!

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