Hours later, I am still relishing the memory of tonight's dinner: crispy-skinned steelhead trout with salsa verde rice. I don't know why it took me this many years to learn how to let my frying pan get hot enough to do justice to the skin.
I meant to buy salmon, because that is what the recipe called for, but when I got to Charlie's Seafood Market today, I discovered that the steelhead looked fresher, and was a full $7/kg cheaper than the wild sockeye salmon. And the trout is local. That clinched it.
This afternoon while Baby G napped, D (who is growing out of his naps...*sigh*) and I roamed the garden and collected herbs and onions for the salsa verde. I couldn't distract him from his toys until I offered to let him run the food processor, which he did with gusto. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that he couldn't stop sampling the finished salsa verde—which you'd think would be too strongly flavoured for an almost-three-year old—this kid grazes on fresh chives, sage and oregano on a daily basis, after all. I finally had to call him off and tempt him with watermelon, so that we'd have some salsa left for supper.
I used the burner on the side of my gas grill to cook the trout, since our hood fan isn't hooked up yet (arrgh) and our gas stove puts out too much heat on 30 degree days. It was a good thing, too, since the oil spatter was impressive. I let the pan get good and hot, and left the fish longer than I was comfortable, walking away so I wasn't tempted to worry them. The results were fantastic--the skin was crisp and solid, the meat had started to caramelize a bit around the edges, and with a quick flip (no sticking in my stainless steel pan), the meat was just barely cooked through and still creamy delicate.
I have never really enjoyed eating salmon or trout skin, because it is usually soft, sticky and somewhat slimy. Now I know that if I'll just give it enough heat and enough time, I'll be rewarded with a savoury, crispy, slightly greasy (but full of Omega 3s!) prize.
Crispy-skinned Steelhead Trout with Salsa Verde Rice (adapted from Ross Dobson's Kitchen Seasons)
1 cup brown rice
1/2 cup wild rice (or use another 1/2 cup brown)
2 T. peanut oil
4 trout fillets with skin on
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Lemon wedges, to serve
1 large handful of chopped, fresh parsley
1 large handful of chopped fresh tarragon or basil (I used tarragon)
1 large handful celery leaves
6 green onions (I used 3 that I had and topped them up with Egyptian onion from my garden)
4 salt packed anchovies (or use oil-packed)
2 T. capers (I use salt-packed)
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Put all of the ingredients, except the olive oil and lemon juice, in a food processor and coarsely chop. Add oil in a thin stream and blend until fairly smooth. Pour into a bowl and stir in lemon juice. Set aside. Cook the rice, then rinse in cold water and drain. Mix with the salsa verde.
Season skin of trout well with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan over high heat. When the oil is very hot, add the fish, skin side down and cook for four minutes, until the skin is golden and crispy. Turn over and cook remove from heat. Fish will finish cooking in the hot pan while you prepare plates. Serve the fish with the rice and lemon wedges.
I also added my first fresh lettuce salad and sage flowers from my garden as a side. Fresh and delicious!