First things first, an apology to my dedicated readers for this extended hiatus. I was super busy saving the world from assassination robots sent from the future (worked too much in February) solving some cold cases for the FBI (watched all of True Detective and House of Cards) and winning olympic medals (cried tears of joy for Charlie and Meryl). All of which resulted in my adventure in fish town, fun though it promised to be, becoming postponed.
So let’s get to it then by tackling whole roasted fish. Not literally, but you can try that too. The fish du jour will be a whole trout, though you could try bass or branzino too; really anything with a thicker, scale-free skin. We tried a grill variation on this down in the Keys with red snapper, and it tasted fantastic, but the thinner skin and beefier bones made the deconstruction really tough. Another bonus of trout is that the bone structure allows the body to open all the way up, which means more space for laying in tasty ingredients.
Time Commitment: T minus 55 minutes (exactly enough time to hunt down some backwoods bayou crazies with Rust Cohle)
Effort Level: Minimal. It really depends on how high maintenance your side dishes are
The Must Have’s:
- One whole trout – 1.5 to 2 lbs – cleaned
- Fresh or dried dill
- Fresh or dried sage or tarragon
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt
- White wine (the drier, the older, the better!)
The Process :
- Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees
This is a good time to point out that root vegetables such as turnips or sweet potatoes, or roastable veggies like cauliflower or brussels sprouts is a perfect accompaniment because your oven is already rolling.
- Rinse the trout inside and out and pat dry with paper towels
- Place trout on baking sheet and brush with oil, sprinkle skin with salt
- Add a few small dill sprigs, a teaspoon of sage (or tarragon for a different taste), and a sprinkle of coarse salt inside the cavity of the fish, distributing evenly throughout the body
- Squeeze out roughly 50 percent of the juice from your lemon (next time I’ll do it before I slice) and slice lemons into thin discs:
- Place the slices within the fish
- Finally, drizzle two tablespoons of white wine over the lemons – if you’ve squeezed out enough juice, they should help absorb a little wine, and keep it trapped inside the fish. If you’re feeling ambitious, you could soak the lemon slices in the wine for 10 minutes before hand.
- Optional – place two or three very small pats of butter (less than a teaspoon total) inside the fish to round it off
- Put the trout in the oven, and cook for 30 to 35 minutes at 450 degrees
Now the only tricky part…
- Peel back the skin from the lower filet, and use a fork to gently separate the meat from the small filet bones, which should remain attached to the center line bone
- Repeat the process on the opposite side, and remove the top part of the filet north of the center line bone
- Plate, add sides, enjoy!