Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Trout with Haricots Verts and Almonds

I like trout. I ate a lot of it growing up in Upstate New York and spending a lot of time fishing on Lake Ontario. That was a solid 15 years ago though, and this was probably the first time that I have had it since then. It's certainly the first time I cooked it.

My squirmy-ness quotient for foods that look like animals and not like food was tested for the first time here. When I first flipped through Bouchon, there were a few things that I was (and still am) a little afraid to make, mostly because they are unfamiliar to me. Not necessarily in a taste kind of way, but in the preparation of the dishes and in experiencing the work that needs to occur to transform animal into food. These included the foie gras, frog legs, and whole fish. Whole fish was pretty far behind the other two, but looking your dinner in the eyes is an odd thing to do, so it still makes the list.

Enough with the introduction. This is another very simple dinner that can probably be made in under an hour. It's hard for me to tell since I have to arrange everything nicely to provide you with the (not so) pretty pictures. Even given all that extra work, I don't think this took more than an hour, so that should be pretty beatable.

So, who wants to take a guess what kind of ingredients we're talking about here? What would someone put in Trout with Haricot Verts and Almonds? How about trout, haricot verts, and almonds? Close, but I substituted plain old green beans for haricot verts. Now someone who actually knows these things should weigh in below, but from what I can find there are fairly small differences between green beans and haricot verts. Mainly a language translation. That, and haricot verts may or may not be longer and thinner with a slightly more complex flavor than green beans. I wouldn't know because I could only find green beans at Whole Foods. The picture is rounded out with a lot of butter, lemon, and parsley.

The first step of the recipe is pan-dressing the trout. This is especially easy when you buy your fish already pan-dressed. The only work left for me was a quick snip of the dorsal fin and to chop off the tail. All done. All the bad stuff was previously removed. I ended up with something like this. Well not something like this, this:

Time to prep the green beans. Blanch 'em for about five minutes, drain, stick 'em in some ice, drain again. Next.

Completion of this dish cost me three burners. It's a good thing the other dish, Sauteed Spinach with Garlic Confit, was a single burner dish. I guess I need to invest in a nonstick saute pan large enough to accommodate two fish at a time if I'm going to be making this a lot. Here's a shot of everything (for both dishes) in place:

My stuff, as they say, is in place. Let's cook. Wait, not quite yet. Now is when I realized that I needed toasted, and not raw, sliced almonds. Into the oven they went for about 15 minutes and then it was time to cook. I took the now salt and peppered trout and added them to some preheated and pre-oiled nonstick skillets, skin side down for four minutes. You only cook these babies on one side. This was a new idea for me, and it requires adding something pretty hot on the top of the fish to complete the cooking process, but it worked out just fine.

While that was going on, the beans, some butter and some water went into a pan. I heated it for quite a few minutes until the water had evaporated and the green beans were nice and butter-coated. Want a picture? Ok...

Look how green they are! They got the salt and pepper treatment as well and then placed on the side to wait patiently for everything else.

Just about done at this point. You have the option of cutting off the heads of the fish at this point, but that wouldn't be any fun, would it? They went on to a plate. I even remembered to warm the plate for once, I guess I am learning around here. The fish were topped with the green beans. The only thing left was some brown butter sauce. You may remember something similar from the gnochhi post, and it's pretty easy. Melt and then brown a bunch of butter, add and brown the almonds, add in some lemon juice and parsley. Serve.

I couldn't get the head to stay upright, which led to looking at the inside of the head and nothing else. That wasn't great or intended. Oh well. The fish itself was very good. The almonds provided a nice crunch and the green beans some texture. The fish was light, not too fishy but not too plain. The butter sauce was rich, but the lemon provided just the right kick. All in all, a definite keeper than can be finished with not problem in about the time of two servings of Chicken and Egg Sammies Deluxe.

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