Thursday, February 23, 2012

Trout with Tamarind Sauce

Whole fish are slightly intimidating.  The tom boy in me loves the thought of catching, gutting and scaling my own fish.  The girlie part of me squeals to look at those glassy eyes and gaping jaws set on ice at the fish mongers.  However, I have been noticing trout more and more frequently at our grocer.  While the beady eyes staring back still weird me out a little, the fish called to purchased.  Rainbow trout were the fish of choice.  These two beauties came fully cleaned.  Clear glassy eyes; shimmering green and silver skin with the slightest aura of pink almost seemed a pity to brown them...

The sauce is Thai inspired and incredibly mild.  Up the pepper quantity if you can take the heat, but keep in mind trout is a very mild fish and can quickly become over powered.

adapted from Main Courses 365 edited by Jenni Fleetwood

serves 2

The Ingredients:
2 trout, about 12 oz each, cleaned
2 Tbsp soy sauce
3 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 Tbsp oil, (vegetable and sesame were used here)

for sauce:
1 oz tamarind pulp (about 2 Tbsp)
5 Tbsp boiling water
1 shallot, coarsely chopped
1/2 to 1 whole fresh red chilli, seeded and chopped ( I used fresno)
1 inch piece fresh ginger root
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp fish sauce

for garnish:
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro
1 green onion, thinly sliced on the diagonal
the other half of the red pepper, juilenned

The Process:
Rinse the trout and pat dry.  Slash the flesh diagonally four to five time on each side with a sharp knife.  Place in a shallow dish.  Fill the cavities of each fish with about 1/3 of the sliced onion.  Pour 1 Tbsp of soy sauce over each fish.  Carefully flip the fish to coat both sides.  Sprinkle with remaining onion and set aside until ready to use...about 5 to 10 minutes.

To prepare the sauce put the tamarind paste in a small bowl.  Cover with the boiling water and allow to set for about 5 minutes.  Mash well with a fork until soft.  Put the tamarind along with its liquid in a blender or food processor.  Add shallots, ginger, chilli, brown sugar and fish sauce.  Blend to a coarse pulp, adding water 1 tsp at a time to thin as necessary.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the trout, preparing one at a time if necessary.  Cook covered, for about 5 minutes on each side, or until the skin is browned and the flesh flakes easily.  Uncover for the last 2-3 minutes of cooking.

Prepare two plates by spooning a small amount of sauce into the center of each.  Gently transfer one trout to each platter.  Spoon additional sauce over each fish and sprinkle with cilantro, green onion and chili pepper.  Serve warm with remaining sauce.

The Review:
Eating trout is an exercise in patience and due diligence...thin transparent bones force you to savor every bite lest you wish to inadvertently pierce you lip.  The flesh was incredibly mild and tender, the sauce offering up the perfect amount of salt, sour and heat.  Taking tiny bites, we found dipping the tines of the fork in a small amount of sauce and then gently lifting off a portion of fish gave the optimum flavor.  Because the potentially hot and potent sauce is spooned on right before serving, the quality of the fish can really shine through without being masked by other flavors.  For those who desire more punch you could spoon some of the sauce into the cavity prior to frying.

I have been told the cheeks and eyes are the best part...As you can see from the carnage below, I am still a little squeamish on that front.  Maybe some day....

1 comment:

  1. Looks really nice. You might be interested in this post I did on fish sauce.