Gone fishing … in the kitchen

Cynthia Stone
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Standing in cold water for hours on end doesn’t satisfy my vacation needs, but I do enjoy the bounty of the rubber waders.

It’s hard to imagine we haven’t thought of every way there is to cook salmon and trout, but each year I catch wind of a new flavour combination or cooking method that I can’t wait to try.

Today I’ve got a few ideas to make the catch that much more enticing.

Salmon Piccata

You probably recognize this recipe but it had chicken in it instead of salmon. After trying the method with fish I can’t imagine ever going back to poultry. It will work with any firm-fleshed seafood but salmon is especially scrumptious. Allow one fillet per serving.

4 generous salmon fillet servings, skin removed

1/2 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup butter or margarine, divided

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 lemon, quartered

2 tbsp. capers, rinsed, drained, coarsely chopped

1 large bunch fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Dry the salmon with paper towels and sprinkle salt and pepper evenly on both sides of each piece. Heat about half the butter and all the oil in a large non-stick frying pan and when it is bubbling hot carefully lay in the fish, top side down. If your frying pan isn’t large enough to allow a spacious fit then cook two batches, keeping the first warm while you do the second.

Fry for about five minutes on the first side, basting occasionally with the butter and oil mixture in the pan. Flip the fish carefully so you don’t break it up and cook another four to five minutes on the other side, until it flakes with a fork but is still moist.

Remove fillets from pan, cover loosely with foil and put in a warm oven. Discard all but a small amount of the oil in the pan and bring the heat back up. Add garlic and cook just until fragrant, a minute or so. Add wine and simmer another minute. Add the lemon wedges, giving them a good squeeze as you add them to the pan. Stir in capers and parsley and simmer together about five minutes. Discard lemon wedges.

Add remaining 2 tbsp. butter and turn off the heat. Swirl the pan to melt the butter. Taste and add salt if needed. Pour sauce over salmon and serve with small roasted potatoes and fresh asparagus.

Blackened Salmon

This is truly a summer dish because you’ve got to throw the windows and doors wide open or your house will fill with smoke. The trick to success here is simple — a cast iron or at least very heavy frying pan and searingly high heat.

Just about any fish fillet can be served in the blackened style but salmon really holds up to the aggressive seasoning. Trout is also fantastic this way. If you choose cod or halibut or another milder tasting fish then cut the seasoning mixture in half.

This amount of blackening spice is enough for four fillets but double or triple the recipe and it will keep for several weeks if tightly sealed.

1 tbsp. smoked or sweet paprika

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp. each dried thyme and dried oregano

1 tsp. each garlic and onion powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 to 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, to taste

4 generous salmon fillets, skin removed

1/4 cup melted butter or margarine

2 tbsp. peanut or other vegetable oil

Combine paprika, black pepper, thyme, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and cayenne pepper; set aside. Dry the fillets with paper towels and dip in melted butter to coat thoroughly, both sides. Sprinkle the blackening spice on a flat surface and press the fillets into it to cover all surfaces evenly. Heat the oil in a cast iron frying pan until it begins to smoke. Carefully lay the fish in the pan and fry, undisturbed, until it is black on one side. Flip and repeat on the other side. Serve at once with a nice rice salad and lemon wedges.

Home-Cured Trout

This is fantastic when you want to impress your friends without breaking a sweat. They won’t believe how easy it is so don’t tell them. Serve this on a big platter draped with thinly sliced raw or pickled red onion and a handful of drained capers. A baguette on the side, some softened cream cheese to smear on it, and you’ve got a party.

1/3 cup coarse salt

1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp. ground fennel, preferably freshly ground from seeds

4 trout fillets, skin removed

1 big bunch fresh dill

2 sprigs each fresh rosemary and thyme

1 lemon, thinly sliced

1/4 cup vodka (or water)

Combine salt, brown sugar, pepper and fennel. Rub vigorously and evenly into the fillets on all surfaces. Spread out about half the herbs in a glass baking dish. Lay the fillets in a single layer on the herbs. Top with remaining herbs. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight. When ready to serve, remove from fridge and rinse off the curing mixture. Rinse out the baking dish and place the trout back in it. Lay on the lemon slices and pour vodka over the top. Cover and bake at 425 F for 10 minutes or until the fish flakes. Serve hot, at room temperature or chilled.

Cynthia Stone is a writer, editor and teacher in St. John’s. Questions may be sent to her c/o The Telegram, P.O. Box 86, St. John’s,

NL, A1E 4N1.

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