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Slice of Life

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Taste of fresh fish worth the work

There is really nothing like fresh caught fish for a perfect meal. A little bit of seasoning, herbs, nuts or spices and you’ve got yourself a real meal that’s not only fresh, but oh so good for you.

Trout is a great fish if you’re just getting started cooking fresh fish. You can cook it whole, with the skin on, or fillet it. While the movies may show gruff and hearty outdoorsy kind of folks chopping the head off and filleting a fish with a flick of a knife, it’s a tad more involved (this process can, of course, be used for filleting most any kind of fish).

First, wash the fish off and place it on a clean surface. Your knives need to be clean and sharp. Cut off the head just below the gills and then slit open the belly and remove the guts (yes, this is icky, just do it). As this is a messy job, make sure you have plenty of water to rinse the trout. You can cook the fish at this point or you can butterfly it.

To butterfly the trout, flip it upside down so the belly is facing up. Starting on one side of the fish, cut where the head used to be, sliding the knife as close as you can get to the backbone and cut along the rib cage. Repeat the process on the other side, as close to the ribs as possible. Now it’s time to take out the backbone. Using your knife and starting at the head end, cut underneath the backbone toward the tail, lifting the spine as you cut. Try not to cut through the skin.

You have a butterflied trout but there are still more bones. You will see them on each side. You can remove the bones out by cutting as close to them as possible, trying not to cut the skin.

If you can’t get the fresh stuff, you can use the fresh frozen or fresh-ish stuff from your grocery or specialty store. The following trout recipes can be used with other fish, but like I said, catch whatever you like best for the freshest flavor.

Bourbon Grilled Trout and Portabellas

2 to 3 large skinned trout filets, cut into large pieces

2 to 3 portabella mushrooms, sliced

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/3 cup bourbon

1 cup water

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Wild rice for four made according to the package

In a glass bowl combine all of the ingredients. Mix to coat, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour but not more than three. Lightly grease a grill pan and heat over medium heat. Remove the trout and mushroom pieces from the marinade (discard the marinade) and grill for about 4 to 5 minutes per side (you may need less time for the mushrooms as you just want them to start to cook and not wilt too much). Serve immediately over the rice.

Serves 4.

Trout Marsala

1 stick butter or margarine

1 large onion, diced

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 pound sliced baby portabellas

2 pounds of trout, skinned and cut into pieces

1 cup flour

1 1/2 cups Marsala wine

Cooked rice or noodles

Heat the butter or margarine in a large skillet. Add the onion, garlic and mushrooms and sautè until tender. Dredge the trout in the flour and add the pieces to the vegetables that are cooking in the skillet. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring and flipping the trout pieces at least once. Gently pour 1 cup of the wine around the edges of the pan. Mix gently. Cook, uncovered, for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the trout to the serving platter and then add the remaining wine to the pan and cook, stirring vigorously to get all the little bits off the bottom of the pan. Pour the sauce over the fish and serve with rice or noodles. Serves 4.

Pecan Pan-Fried Trout with Browned Butter

1/4 cup oil

1 cup pecans, finely chopped

1 cup fresh or panko breadcrumbs

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Salt and ground black pepper

4 (6- to 8-ounce) skin-on trout filets

Lemon wedges, for garnish

Pecan Brown Butter:

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1 lemon, grated zest and juice

1/4 cup chopped pecans

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Brush a rimmed baking sheet with oil and place in the oven to warm.

In a bowl combine the pecans, breadcrumbs and parsley; season with salt and pepper. Press the flesh side of each filet into the pecan mixture. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place two trout pieces in the pan, crust side down, and cook until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn and cook until fish is opaque in the center and just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the trout to the prepared baking sheet, crust side up. Place the baking sheet in the oven. Repeat the process with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and the remaining two trout filets. Serve immediately. Garnish with lemon and a drizzle of Pecan Brown Butter sauce.

For the Pecan Brown Butter: Wipe the skillet clean. Add butter and melt over medium heat. Allow the butter to foam and turn medium brown, swirling the pan occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat, add the finely grated zest and juice lemon, chopped pecans and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle trout with the pecan butter.

– Modified from Epicurious.com

Slice of Life is a food column that offers recipes, cooking advice and information on new food products. It appears Sundays. If you have a question about cooking or a food item, contact Eileen Goltz at ztlog@frontier.net or write The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802.

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