Breakaway Cook

How to Cook a Trout

I grew up eating trout; my father actually carried a set of fishing poles in the family car(!), and would stop off for a quick hit of his addiction at the local lake on the way back from work. He almost always came home with a bucket of trout. Now the only trout I eat usually come from a farm in Idaho, but I still find them delicious..

I’ve experimented with lots of cooking methods for trout over the years, but I’ve finally settled on one that produces perfectly crispy and delicious skin and moist, wonderfully seasoned flesh.Here’s what you’ll need:

  • * one big fat trout, cleaned (they’re almost always sold cleaned)
  • * a cast iron skillet
  • * some basic seasonings

Rinse the fish and dry it carefully and thoroughly. Then take your sharp knife and scrape along the entire sides of the fish. You’ll get some funky grayish crap on the knife — wipe it off with a paper towel, and do it some more, until you no longer produce any gray muck. This wonderful technique applies to almost all fish; it removes all impurities and paves the way for a wonderfully crispy, scrumptious skin.

Rub the entire fish, inside and out, with a light drizzle of olive oil, and liberally sprinkle everything, again inside and out, with freshly cracked pepper and kosher salt. I also like to sprinkle about a teaspoon or so of freshly ground coriander seeds on the skin — this really gives it an extra crispy blast — but you don’t have to.

Preheat oven to 400. Heat up the pan over high heat, and add a splash of olive oil and a small touch of butter, and swirl it around. When it’s very hot, add the trout, and cook it over high heat for four or five minutes, or until it gets very browned. Flip it over and brown the other side. While it’s cooking, cut up a Meyer lemon, regular lemon, or some other citrus, and stuff the wedges inside the fish. Transfer the pan to the oven for about five minutes, which should be enough time to cook the fish all the way through.

Remove it and plate it. Stand the trout up on its belly and, with the backbone facing up, and, using a knife and fork, carefully slice the skin along the backbone and gently separate the meat from the backbone. It should come off in one clean swoop. Squeeze the baked lemon over the flesh, and add a final dusting of salt, preferably an interesting salt like tangerine salt or saffron salt.

I sometimes cook two or three at a time, and put the extra meat in a Tupperware for an incredibly tasty trout salad the next day.


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Edaminty Shrimp Salad

Most people enjoy edamame on their own; they’re fun to shuck from their pods and pop into your mouth (and one of Daphne’s favorite activities), especially on a hot day, liberally salted, with plenty of cold beer to wash them down. But edamame also make fabulous purees, and nothing could be simpler if you purchase frozen, already-shucked edamame; just toss them into boiling water for five minutes or so, drain, and they’re ready for pureeing.

This is a dish I used to make often in Japan. Just toss a cup or so of cooked edamame into a food processor with big handfuls of mint leaves, olive oil, salt, pepper, and a little lemon. You can use other herbs as well; Thai basil makes and especially fine edamame puree. Sometimes I toss some fruit in as well (stonefruit works well if it’s the right season, but grapes are good, too) just to liven things up a bit, and I even add plain yogurt to it sometimes, if I want the puree to be a little thinner. You then transfer the green goo to a bowl, add some more (whole) cooked edamame for visual and textural appeal, and you’re ready to go. This can also be a fabulous and nearly instant pasta sauce: just combine with hot pasta.

But it’s wonderful as a kind of hearty dip, and has special affinity with shrimp. It’s an appeztizer/pre-dinner snack that always disappears quickly at parties.

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