Thursday, February 19, 2009

Trout with Green Beans and Almonds

I have a very long list of restaurants that I want to experience at some point in my life. Unfortunately at this point in my life with the economy in the crapper and my budget being almost negative, I have to put a lot of these restaurant wishes on the back burner. Luckily there are cookbooks, magazines, and websites that will help me create restaurant dishes at home for far cheaper than it costs to visit the restaurant itself. I recently noticed that the price of trout was pretty reasonable at the farmers market so I set out to find some recipes. This one stuck out because of the small number of ingredients and the reasonable price (I replaced haricot verts with green beans). I realized that this would be my first time ever dealing with an entire fish. Of course, I have cooked with shrimp a bajillion times and even dealt with calamari recently, but the only other fish I cook with is fish that is already prepped and filleted. Growing up, my mom always used to make us go with her on once a month trips to the fish market and then would spend the rest of the afternoon stinking up the house and cleaning the fish. Of course, I was always happy to eat the fish once it was prepared, but I now wish I had payed a bit more attention to the preparation. To say I was intimidated would be an exaggeration. I kind of had to psych myself up for it and even then, the little guy looking up at me kind of creeped me out.

He knows I've got the jitters about this.

Well it turns out the fish monger at the farmers market had already done some of the work for me, so I tried to follow the directions in the recipe as best I could. Luckily, I am not a contestant on Top Chef and not risking elimination. I don't think I dressed the trout entirely correctly, but at least I'm not being sent home for doing a bad job. Anyway, once I got over my unease of prepping the fish, the rest of the recipe is quick and quite simple. It's also incredibly tasty. The browned butter with toasted almonds was rich, but the lemon cut through the richness slightly. It went very well with the crisp green beans and flaky fish. I greatly reduced the amount of butter called for in the dish because not only did I want to lighten it up, but I was also only cooking just one fish. Although I won't be any awards or moving on to the next round for my work on the fish, I am glad that I was able to reasonably recreate this dish in the comfort of my own home. Below is the recipe with the measurements I used for one fish, but if you want to make this for more than just one or two servings, please click the link.

Oh hell, I just looked at the picture on the website and I definitely prepared the fish incorrectly. Luckily, the dish still worked out!

Trout with Green Beans and Almonds
(Adapted from Thomas Keller)

1 boned, whole trout
4 ounces (approx) green beans, stem ends removed
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Canola oil spray
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cp sliced almonds
1 teaspoon Italian parsley, minced
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

To pan dress the trout (which I completely did wrong!):
With scissors, cut away the dorsal fin along the back of each fish. Hold each pectoral fin (the one closest to the head) and cut away and discard the gill plate and pectoral fin. Turn the fish on its back and open it up. Starting at the head, cut away the belly flap on each side, along with the pelvic fin. Remove the tail by cutting across the fish about an inch from the bottom of the tail. Set aside.

For the green beans:
Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Prepare an ice bath. Blanch the beans in the boiling water for 2 to 6 minutes, or until they are barely tender, with a slight bite still left to them. Drain the beans and transfer to the ice bath to chill quickly, then drain again and dry on paper towels.

To complete:
Lightly sprinkle both sides of each trout with salt and pepper. Heat a 12-inch nonstick pan (special oval pans work best for fish) over medium-high heat. Coat each pan with a light film of canola oil spray. Add the trout skin side down and sauté for about 4 minutes on one side only. The fish may still look undercooked at the top of the flesh, but the hot ingredients that will top them will complete the cooking.

Meanwhile, put the beans in a sauté pan, add 1 tablespoon of the butter and 2 tablespoons water, and place over medium heat. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the water has evaporated and the beans are hot and glazed with butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove the pan from the heat and keep warm.

When the fish are done, cut off the heads and discard, if desired, and place the fish on serving plates. Drain the oil from one of the pans and return the pan to the heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and a pinch of salt to the hot pan. When the butter begins to brown, add the almonds, shaking the pan to brown them evenly. When they are a rich golden brown, add the parsley and lemon juice.

Meanwhile, cover the trout with the beans.

Spoon the foaming butter and almonds over the green beans and around the edges of the plates.

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Becka Robinson said...

This looks yummy but I could NEVER get Mr. Beagle to eat green beans. I've been trying for a year! :)

aleta meadowlark said...

How was it?! I have a special place in my heart for trout . . . my dad loves to fish and trout was the first fish I ever caught (at 3 years old!). Also, I like it better than most fish.

Donna-FFW said...

This sounds great!! One of my favorite ways to make green beans is this way. SOOOO good!!

Diana said...

I'm sure you did way better with that fish than I could ever do! Just looking at that guy in the bowl gives me the heebie jeebies!

Esi said...

Marie, that's crazy that Mr. Beagle doesn't like beans! I absolutely love them. My mom used to grow them in her garden and they were the best!

Aleta, I really liked this dish. I am sure it wasn't quite professional, but it was delicious.

Donna, it is definitely rich, but a good way to eat beans once in a while.

Diana, I think I had a dream that the head turned and started talking to me :)

Heather said...

i'm so impressed that you did the whole fish! and i love green beans and almonds together. yummm.

Tyler said...

wow, i've never cooked with a whole fish before! looks like you did a good job, despite not following the directions :)

Reeni said...

Esi, I think it turned out beautiful! How brave you are, I don't know if I could even attempt that. Those green beans are giant and the almonds look toasty and delicious!

Anonymous said...

green beans + almonds = delicious!

The Food Librarian said...

Looks great! My father has a freezer full of trout and I have to make this!

Adi said...

looks great Esi! i am obsessed with Thomas Keller. i have a wedding in Napa right around my mom's birthday. i'm trying to convince her that we should go to French Laundry.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Good for you for tackling that trout! I've never handled a whole fish at home, but I've scaled and filleted enough fish for animals that I think I could do it. We shall see...

Anonymous said...

wow i don't ever remember green beans looking so darn awesome on top of fish. (I was never a green bean fan, as youc an tell!!) hahahah but maybe I'll try your recipe.

SO pilates does the trick for stumpy calves huh?? Thanks for the tip!! I'll keep it in mind, but a session of pilates is a little steep for me. :(