I have always had a love-hate relationship with trout. The flavor is usually bland to fishy, there are ALWAYS a zillion little pin bones… it’s really greasy. My hands smell like fish for hours later. And all of that was especially true when I cooked them using my husband’s favorite recipe.
Paul is a fisherman, through and through. He’s great at it, too so he’s always bringing home coolers full of fish (I love it!!). But because of the aforementioned problems, I kind of dreaded when he came home with trout. I’d suffer through it or (don’t come for me) just leave them in the freezer until they got too old to eat. What was I doing wrong? People love trout. I just knew there had to be a better way! And there is!!!
Do any of you know about butterflying fish?? Silly story, I was watching some Bobbie Flay show and he was making pan-fried trout and he did this magical thing – he removed all the bones then fried and served it FLAT. What?! The next time trout appeared in my kitchen I said, ” Oh mighty fisherman, can you please butterfly the trout for me?” And the exhausted fisherman replied, “Do it yourself! Or ask your boyfriend Bobbie Flay to do it. Do you have any idea how hard it is to butterfly something??” Appalled, I immediately set about to prove him wrong (by watching some youtubes and trying it myself).
Turns out it is a little tricky. But here at the Art Farm, we can do difficult things 🙂 I’m not going to claim to be an expert at it, but I have (at this point) butterflied about 100 trout and kokanee so I’m getting better. This guy has a really good instructional video, he explains the steps well. And this guy does it prettier, safer (?) and faster. Your first few tries will be disastrous, but if you use a short, sharp knife and practice, it will get better – and you will never go back.
The reason I bother with all the fussiness and time of this process is so the flavor of my seasonings can touch the actual flesh of the fish I’m eating. If I just gut the fish and fry it up, none of my salt, pepper, or fat can reach the part of the fish I’m eating – it stays on the skin or is inside the rib cage, both of which I’m throwing away at the end of my meal. This technique lets me remove the pin bones before I cook it so my hands don’t get gross and/or I don’t have to remove a bone from my MOUTH at the dinner table (gag!). Plus the presentation can’t be beat.
Once you have some beautifully butterflied trouts, kokanees, or even small steelhead, you can just fry it up with a little bacon fat/salt/pepper/lemon OR… you can try this little upgrade to a Trout Almondine.
- 3-4 trout/kokanee, butterflied & de-boned
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1 lemon
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper*
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
Heat up 1 or 2 large frying pans to medium high heat. Add the butter to the pan until it’s good and sizzley. Squeeze some lemon juice on the fish flesh to cover. Add some salt and black pepper. Add about 1 handful of sliced almonds on top of the salt/pepper. Press them gently on to the flesh so they stick on.
Fry them flesh-down for 1-2 minutes until the almonds develop a nutty smell and a darker brown color. Flip gently and cook on the skin side for another 1-2 minutes, might take a little longer for a large fish. That’s it! I try to peel the skin off my fillets when I’m putting them on the plate, but you can also just flip one side over and serve it looking like a while fish for show. Enjoy!
* full disclosure… I use a tri-colored pepper grinder. The flavor is more mellow than traditional black pepper. I wouldn’t use too much black pepper as it might overwhelm the other flavors.