Trout treats

Cynthia Stone
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Many of you consider salmon to be the trout's poor cousin, and when the little pink sweeties are properly prepared, I can't come up with much of an argument to the contrary.

Now that you've had a pan-fry or two, here are three new ideas for you to try out with your pond bounty this season.

Lemony Trout with Creamed Spinach

Fish and lemon are a natural pairing, as are trout and spinach in my mind. All in one dish, they make beautiful music together. I tried using pieces of fish and combining the ingredients casserole style, but it's better in separate layers. This amount will serve four as a light supper or as a substantial lunch.
4 tsp. butter (divided)
2 tbsp. olive oil (divided)
1 lb. washed and drained baby spinach
3/4 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper (divided)
1/4 cup sour cream
pinch nutmeg, preferably freshly ground
4 large trout fillets (or small whole trout)
juice and rind of 1 lemon
2 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. Dijon or hot grainy mustard
1 tbsp. chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley

Melt 2 tsp. of the butter in 1 tbsp. of the oil over medium heat. Add spinach, cover and allow to wilt for 2 minutes. Remove cover and stir in 1/2 tsp. each of the salt and pepper.

Cook until most of the moisture evaporates.

Add sour cream and heat through but do not boil; set aside and keep warm. Add remaining 1 tbsp. olive oil and 2 tsp. butter to frying pan and fry trout, flipping them after about 4 minutes, until just cooked through. In the meantime, whisk together lemon juice and rind, honey, mustard, parsley, and remaining 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper. Pour over fillets in pan and cook together about 2 minutes. Layer spinach on platter or serving plates.

Arrange trout on top and drizzle pan juices over everything. You won't miss potatoes with this one.

Trout Poached in Saffron Tomato Sauce

This recipe is reminiscent of paella, that wonderful Spanish concoction of rice and seafood - but much simpler. Saffron goes exceptionally well with trout, although I haven't seen them together in many recipes, I suppose because they come from such different locales. If you've never bought saffron, it's outrageously expensive, but a small amount goes quite a long way. It keeps a long time, so it's a great addition to your pantry. The amount of salt you use depends on the broth and your taste buds, but the sauce should be well seasoned before the trout goes in, so you need to taste and adjust. This will work best if you do it in a large heavy roasting pan so the trout can sit in a single layer in the sauce.
1 large onion, diced
2 tsp. each olive oil and butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme leaves
pinch red chili flakes
1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper
generous pinch saffron threads
4 bay leaves
6 whole trout, trimmed as you like (I'd leave heads and tails on.)
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp. soft butter (preferably unsalted)

Fry onion in olive oil and butter until soft but not brown. Add garlic, thyme and chili flakes and cook just until you can smell the garlic. Add tomatoes, broth, wine, salt, pepper, saffron and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 20 minutes.

Taste and adjust the seasoning. Place the trout carefully in the sauce, immersing them completely. Cover and continue to simmer just until the trout is cooked through. Remove the fish carefully and taste the sauce; add salt and pepper if needed. If it's extremely loose you can boil it uncovered for a few minutes to reduce it, but be careful because that also concentrates the salt. Stir in parsley and butter and serve over trout with plain long-grain rice on the side.

Baked Trout with Spicy
and Creamy White Wine Sauce

I've been trying to replicate a sauce I had with grilled fish on a holiday a year and a half ago, and last week I had an aha moment. I had been starting with white sauce - you know, flour, butter and milk - but it was always too thick and never silky enough. The trick turned out to be no flour at all. I know this recipe calls for whipping cream and butter, but you really only need a small spoonful per person. Use as many hot peppers as you like, or as few, of course. If you have an aversion to heat, leave them out altogether.
8 large whole trout, gutted but heads and tales still on if possible
1 tsp. each coarse sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper
3 or 4 small fresh red hot peppers, halved lengthwise - the little Thai ones are perfect
2 shallots, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed but left whole
12 whole black peppercorns
3/4 cup each dry white wine and chicken broth
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 tsp. honey
1 tbsp. soft butter
salt to taste

Make the sauce first. Place hot peppers, shallots, garlic, peppercorns, wine and broth in a small pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer together, uncovered, 15 minutes. Add whipping cream and honey and continue cooking until reduced by about half - the sauce should be creamy but still light. Strain through a sieve and return to pot. Off heat, swirl in the butter and add salt to taste. Keep warm while you prepare the fish. Season trout inside and out with salt and pepper. Place on a greased, foil-lined baking sheet and bake at 450 F until flesh flakes from the backbone when tested with a fork - about 8 minutes. (Barbecued would be fabulous, as well.) Drizzle prepared sauce over trout. Consider roasted or fried potatoes, rice or grilled veggies on the side.

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.

Organizations: The Telegram

Geographic location: St. John's

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