Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Fish Tale

My husband challenged me to recreate a dish we order just about every time we go to Caprice in Redlands, the brook trout. I accepted the challenge and went off to the grocery store to hunt down the ingredients. My local store didn't have brook trout but had its cousin rainbow trout so that had to do for this challenge. I returned home with two lovely whole trout. Now what to do?

Here is where the real challenge began. What did I know about trout? Nothing other than it has A LOT of bones. So now I was faced with the task of filleting the fish I bought. I have never filleted a whole fish before. I had some ideas how to do it, but I wanted to make sure I did it right the first time and I didn't leave more fish on the bones than I did on the fillets I intended to create. Where does one go to read about filleting a whole trout?  Why the internet of course. I found a couple of videos, but one was just what I was looking for and it showed me the simplest way to do it.

With my new found knowledge I was armed with I was ready to proceed. What do you need to fillet a fish? A sharp boning knife and a good large cutting board. With that at hand I was ready. Having a whole fish can feel a little intimidating. For a majority of Americans our food usually does not come to our homes with their heads on. But for this girl tonight's dinner had a head and I had to do something about that. So in Marie Antoinette's famous words, "Off with their heads!" And off they went.

Heads off, check. Now onto the filleting. This was a bit more labor intensive, but it is actually pretty easy with having the right tools. I said having a sharp boning knife was important and this is where it came in. Boning knives are narrow and very flexible and make making cuts very close to bones rather easy.I removed the spine and then I followed the rib bones like I saw in the video and they came off for the most part in one piece. Once I got one side done I proceeded to the other. It wasn't perfect, but I did succeed in getting almost no meat on the bones I was removing. Also, one side wasn't as pretty as the other. I knew in the end it wasn't going to matter once the meal was complete.

Trout Fillets
Think I was finished? Nope, by no means was I done. Now for the simple yet very important job of removing the pin bones. These are the inter-muscular bones in many fish and are actually floating bones not connected to the skeleton. These are the pesky bones that make eating fish not pleasurable if they are not removed. They are simple to remove, all you need is a fish plier or a very clean needle nose plier that you have pilfered from the tool box. You just feel along the flesh and you will feel these bones poking out. You just pluck them out. Be careful not to dig too much into the flesh. Once all the bones are out it is time to trim off the fat and clean up the fillet.

Time to cook dinner. Thankfully the trout Gods were on my side and nothing stuck when I was cooking the fillets in a stainless steel skillet. I wanted a crunchy skin and this was the best way to do it. Once the fillets were cooked I let them rest for a few minutes while I made a brown butter sauce in the same pan. When the sauce was done I topped the fish with haricot verts (thin green beans) and toasted sliced almonds and drizzled it with the brown butter sauce and finished it with a sprinkle of Maldon salt. Ta-Da! Time to eat.

Trout Almondine
Did I succeed in the challenge? Yes I did! It wasn't exactly like the dish we love at Caprice, but it was darn near close. I also succeeded in this challenge by learning how to work with an ingredient I had never worked with before. It was a great lesson. I learn by watching and doing. I think I also succeeded in finding a way to have something my husband and I both enjoy for a fraction of the price. Next challenge of this dish is now to make it for friends who also like fish.

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