Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fish Heads and Pine Nuts

I was standing at the meat counter at the grocery store ordering up a couple dozen clams and about to ask for some wild salmon. My buddy Sam the Butcher was counting the clams and talking about how he'd like my autograph because he and his wife have been reading my articles in the paper, and someday when I'm famous and writing for Time magazine, he would like to be able to point to my autograph and say, "See, I know her." After thanking him and withholding my autograph because...seriously...Time? I don't think so...I saw the trout, heads and all.

In the middle of Ohio you can't plan ahead for something like rainbow trout. You can't run to the store one day to buy trout for dinner that night because it's hit or miss. I switched gears with my menu for the week and asked for two trouts instead of the salmon. Here is what I did with it, taken from a recipe from an old Gourmet magazine.

Broiled Rainbow Trout with Pine Nuts, Butter Stuffing, and Sage Butter
Serves 4

Sage Butter
3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
3 scallions, finely chopped

1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 fresh jalapeƱo peppers, seeded and diced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 butterflied rainbow trout, whole, skin on, bones removed (ask your fish dealer to do this for you)
Vegetable oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Butter: Well in advance of cooking the fish, prepare the Sage Butter by placing all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse to combine well. Using a rubber spatula, heap the mixture onto a piece of plastic wrap and roll to form a sausage shape. Twist the ends to enclose the butter. Refrigerate at least 1 hour to harden enough so that it can be sliced.

The stuffing: Meanwhile, prepare the stuffing combining the bread crumbs, pine nuts, jalapeƱos, garlic, chili powder and salt and pepper in a bowl. Drizzle the 2 tablespoons vegetable oil into this mixture and blend together lightly with a fork.

The fish: Preheat the broiler. Brush both sides of the trout with vegetable oil. Season with salt and pepper and broil skin-side up to crisp the skin, a maximum of 2 to 3 minutes. Don't cook the heads—I just showed you what they looked like after you hack them off with a cleaver. Remove the fish from the broiler. Place the fish, skin-side down, in a roasting pan that has been lightly rubbed with vegetable oil. Sprinkle the stuffing mixture over the fish. Place the fish in a 375 degree oven 6 to 7 minutes to finish cooking. When the fish have nearly finished baking, crumble several pieces of the reserved Sage Butter on each fillet so that, in the last moment of cooking, the butter will melt, seasoning the fish.

I apologize for not having a photo of the finished dish. It's lovely and very tasty.


dive said...

That sounds gorgeous, Robyn, but don't waste the heads!
There's a YouTube link somewhere on Phil's blog to Barnes and Barnes' rare and classic song "Fish Heads", which is worth checking out if you fancy a giggle.

MmeBenaut said...

I just can't watch it Robyn, I'm sorry but I think I'm going to throw up ... I can't deal with raw fish!

lynn said...

he he poor Mme. I can deal with raw fish quite well. So it was so delicious you ate it straight away; too quickly for the camera Robyn? lol great!

I hope you gave him your autograph. Wow how flattering. Lovely.