Rainbow Trout : Lettuce Cream : Almonds : Hedgehog Mushrooms : Asparaguses

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Finally I get the opportunity to post a fish dish on my blog. It’s been some time since I last did, and I don’t even know why. If you follow this blog, you probably know by now that this is quite a carnivorous site, and as much as I love land and flight capable animals and most of my posts feature them, fish is my favorite thing to eat. If you are new to this blog, be warned, there will be blood.

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Fish is tricky to photograph because it has little patience. You need to work fast with fish, keep it fresh, fillet it while it’s cold, and eat it right away, there’s very little room for camera work. The photography portion of the post is quite a hassle actually, but I can’t help it, I enjoy taking photos almost as much as I enjoy cooking.  I’ve been working on this recipe for some time, mainly because I’ve been learning how to fillet trouts (Still learning, it is definitely a tricky skill to learn) and also because the plating required a bit more thought. The last few times I wasn’t happy with it, the dish didn’t look right and since I’ve ran out of patience just like a fish, I hope this one looks better because I’m done eating trout for a while. I’m Trouted out!

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This dish is extremely easy and quick to make but it delivers wonderful flavors and textures. You will notice the little seasoning I used. I wanted to keep the ingredients as true to themselves as possible, something I like doing when cooking fish and in general really. If you’re into fish, but haven’t tried making it at home, or maybe, when you pan fry fish you end up with dry fish, read on, I will cover some tips on cooking fish that I hope you find useful. Properly cooked fish should be delicate and moist, the kind that melts in the mouth.

Btw, I was just invited to join the fifth edition of Fiesta Friday (thank you Angie) a digital potluck by my friend Angie at The Novice Gardener that offers the opportunity to connect to other great wordpress bloggers. I will be featuring this recipe there. Please, check out the links. Beautiful posts by Angie’s readers and contributors, and Angie’s as well await!

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Ingredients (yields 2 servings, takes about 30 minutes):

1 whole rainbow trout (filleted, six small steaks)
1 cup of mushrooms (hedgehogs in this recipe, but shiitake works amazingly well)
6-8 Asparagus tips
8 lettuce leaves plus a few more
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp sliced almonds (more if you like)
Splash of lemon juice
Extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp of butter
Salt and Pepper to taste

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1. Make the cream of lettuce. In a saucepan. Boil the lettuce leaves in cream until they wilt. About 6 minutes. Salt to taste. Keep a few lettuce leaves for later. Transfer wilted leaves and cream into a blender. Blend until very smooth. Be careful when blending hot liquids, always use a dry kitchen towel to hold down the blender’s lid and press down on it confidently. Blend away. Add a splash of lemon juice, adjust salting if needed. Return to lettuce cream to the saucepan. Bring to a simmer, add the remaining lettuce leaves. Cook until they wilt. Remove from the stove. Reserve.

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2. Mushrooms and almonds. Using a wide pan over medium high heat. Melt the butter. Add the mushrooms and the almonds and toss to coat evenly. Add some salt. Cook until some color develops but don’t burn the aliments. Remove from the stove. Reserve.

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3. Cooking the asparagus tips. Heat up a pan on high heat. When really hot, add some salt, add a tbsp of water and add the tips. Have the lid ready. Plenty of water steam at this point. Cover the pan with the lid. Turn off the heat. Let the tips cook covered for about 2 minutes, and uncovered until the water is gone. Add a little olive oil in the pan, and coat the tips. Reserve. I prefer certain vegetables this way. It is really quick. No need to wait for a pot of water to boil, and less flavor loss.

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4. The trout. I won’t go over how to fillet a trout here, because this can only be done better in a video, and there are a few really good ones out there on youtube. One tip though. If you ever fillet a fish, make sure it’s fresh and not been frozen. Once the flesh freezes, the water crystals will destroy the delicate structure of the meat, and it will become mushy, making it super difficult to fillet correctly. And also, ruining the texture of the final dish. Let’s cover the preparation.  A rainbow trout is a relatively small fish, unlike steelheads which are much bigger in size.

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Our fillets are probably about 1 1/2 cm thick, so cooking them simply on a skillet should be perfect. I like skin on my fish, specially if it’s crispy (actually, I don’t care, I love the skin anyway). For crispy skin, we gotta get a good sear on it. So… salt and pepper the fish a few minutes before pan frying. Don’t bring to room temperature. Straight out of the fridge is what we want. Bring skillet on the stove at medium high heat. Olive oil. When the oil begins to ripple, add the fillets. If the pan isn’t big enough, work in batches. Place the fillets skin side down. That’s the only side that will come in contact with the pan. Most delicate fish cook at very low temperature actually, a little over 50C. You can see the color of the meat changing and becoming opaque. After 2 minutes, turn off the heat. You could splash some lemon juice in the pan. It will deglaze the pan and the steam will finish the cooking. Cover the fish with a lid. Cook for another 2 minutes. The whole process is really quick. Another tip is: Don’t try to move the fish around while cooking, there is no need to fuss with it. And don’t try to peak under the skin too early in the process, the fish will probably be stuck to the pan and you will tear it. Be patient. The fish will come loose on its own when the skin is crispy. As simple as that even if you’re using a steel pan.

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5. Plating. Add the wilted lettuce leaves on the plate. Add some of the lettuce cream on top. Place the fish fillets. Sprinkle the mushrooms and almonds over the plate. Add the asparagus tips. Drizzle olive oil over the dish. You could deglaze the pan used to cook the fish in and drizzle the cooking juices over the final dish. And this is done.