Sunday, August 14, 2011

Rainbow Trout, Seared in Butter

Earlier today, I had decided on a journey to the fish market, over the bridge to Beverly via my pretty sweet bicycle. But while I had many ideas swimming in my noggin regarding what to eat for an appetizer, and what I wanted to make the next day, I really had no idea what fish I would actually select for dinner. Having arrived, however, the decision was almost made for me. I chose two beautiful rainbow trout, farm raised and purchased from Rowand Fisheries ("Live Lobsters. Dead Fish.")
I selected these particular fish partially due to simple "how much can I spend between dinner today and tomorrow" arithmetic. I already knew that I had to allocate a bunch of my funds towards a culinary adventure tomorrow night, and had a certain amount of money that I could spend on tonight's dinner. Just as I had mentioned in the previous entry, I already had my heart set on two large pieces of frozen smoked haddock, prepared elsewhere in Beverly from the fish provided by Rowand Fishers. I also had intentions of purchasing a pound of littlenecks, and a half pound of shrimp (again, see shrimp cocktail). That would leave me about fifteen dollars or so. And yeah, I wanted nice fish. So I noticed, among mounds of tilapia, and some rather expensive flounder, that there were two rainbow trout left in a shallow bin in the fish case. These fish still had their heads attached, and though the interior cavity had been cleaned, the back bone, fins, and tails were still intact. These parts would all be useful later on when cooking up a light fish stock. Besides having these bonus bits, rainbow trout is a pretty flavorful fish, and when eaten as fillets with a crispy skin, it's remarkably delicious. So the plan is to take the fish home and fillet them, using the bones and the heads for tomorrow's fish stock adventure. Done deal. Pack them up good man, and leave the heads. We're on our way back to Salem.
Now, I've seen a fish cleaned here and there in my younger years. My dad would take my mom and my little brother out on the boat almost every weekend during the summer. When we actually would catch a fish (usually blues or porgies), he would clean and portion them up. They weren't pretty jobs, but he did always have some success in cutting  some nice pieces of flesh for us to sear off on the stove or the grill. So today, using his same general techniques that I could remember, I went after the rainbow trout. I removed the head and collar, sliced down the length of the fish to remove the backbone, and cut off the fins and tail, all to be reserved for tomorrow's gastronomic undertaking. Before long, we had two lovely sides of the rainbow trout to cook. But, just to go a little further, being that I have never been a fan of choking on a fish bone, and would sooner die than give any reason to my bigger half to call me a crappy cook, I took a pair of tweezers and pulled out every bone that the fish guy had left intact. This is almost completely unnecessary with the small bones of rainbow trout. But OCD sometimes gets the better of me. So many bones. SOO MANY BONES!
After every bone had been removed and discarded, I had four beautiful fillets. The best way to cook fresh fish, I think, is to forgo the deep frying and flour coating methods, and simply sear off in butter. So that's what I did. A couple pads of butter in a large frying pan, with a splash of canola oil to help it along. I let the pan go on high heat, and then seared for three minutes, skin side down. After checking the sear to ensure that the skin had grown crispy, I turned over onto the flesh side, and let cook another minute.  Minute elapsed, and I knew that the completely opaque flesh was an indicator of cooked through fish. Our fillets were done.
Aren't they lovely? A crispy skin, and the buttery light, flaky meat of a rainbow trout. I know that farmed trout isn't supposed to be as flavorful as wild trout, but sometimes when going to the fish market, you simply must rely on what can give you the most bang for your buck, and whatever looks irresistible as it stares back at you from that case (I was caught this morning! Pick me! Pick me!). I'd say that the rainbow trout, properly filleted, and with the bonus bits to use in my fish stock tomorrow, was a very good choice. 

Rowand Fisheries

2 Cabot Street
Beverly, MA 01915

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