Friday, January 29, 2010

Cornmeal-crusted trout with mashed root vegetables and crispy leeks

So I was wandering around New Seasons, as is my wont these days, wondering what to make for dinner. It's citrus season again, so I grabbed some blood oranges. Even though they're not particularly sweet, I'm always suckered into buying them for their novelty. It's an orange! That isn't orange! Here, take my money.

I was sort of hankering for seafood, but after a recent flirtation with food poisoning (waited a day to cook fresh mussels, ate one or two, and realized they smelled like ammonia - luckily, came away unscathed) I wanted to play it safe with a nice salmonid. Salmon, steelhead and trout are so ubiquitous in these parts that kids growing up here get a shot at catching their very own at least once. My grandpa used to take me and my brother fishing at Rooster Rock State Park in the Columbia River Gorge when we were little. We'd always giggle at the fact that there was a nude beach at this park, and never caught anything but brown bullhead catfish. My grandpa usually ended up swinging us by the rainbow trout farm at the end of the day so we wouldn't come home empty-handed.

My mom would dutifully dredge the cleaned trout in some cornmeal and fry them up in a cast iron skillet. I think this was the only way I ate fish (or in fish stick form) until I was a teenager. Some wheels need no reinvention, and this is one. That said, I did want to doll up the cornmeal a bit, and so to it, added blood orange zest and fresh thyme.

I got about a half inch of grapeseed oil hot, then tossed in some sliced leeks to get nice and crispy. This is an idea I totally stole from Peter, and it's a good way to use a leek that languishing in the crisper. Also on the verge of going to waste was a bag of parsnips and a few carrots. Feeling the sweet root veg vibe, I simmered these in milk and mashed them with lots of butter. I fried the fillets of Idaho trout in the leek-flavored oil and in only a minute or two, dinner was ready. It was totally worth the mess.

Serve with a Pinot Prosecco and wedges of tart blood orange.


Peter M said...

I love crispy fish skin and cornmeal crust works and I've also used semolina flour.

Trout's one of my fave fish, you've spoken to the outdoorsman in me.

peter said...

I'm not commenting unless you make that a link.


Heather said...

Peters! Hi. Long time no see! Sorry I forgot to add the hyperlink to your blog, Jube. Enjoy the sweet, sweet traffic spike.

Foodycat said...

Hmmm - Paul is going fishing today, and I have a leek, parsnips and carrots in the veg drawer. If all goes well, I think we have dinner!

Leigh said...

woo-hoo , my favourite US foodie is back! nice to hear from you again, dude! Hope all is well. Trout is underrated, I wish as many people over here chose it instead of Salmon (overrated)!!

Frustrated Farmer Rick said...

Welcome back. I love the idea of making the leeks crispy. I have had to many mushy pale leeks.

Manggy said...

Hey Snowflake! I am all for fried fish (er, sorry, "pan-roasted", heh heh)-- by far my favorite way to eat it, esp. trout (which doesn't exist in Manila, by the way, but I've come to love in San Francisco).
I'm glad you didn't get sick!

Will said...

For novelty? Really? You need to track down some better blood oranges.

lostpastremembered said...

Love that plate and cornmeal and fish are a match made in heaven!!!

We Are Never Full said...

you're right - some dishes you just can't fuck with. i need to make some fried fish soon. it's so easy and so tasty, i don't know why it doesn't pop into my head when i'm searching for an easy weeknight meal.

as for the crispy leeks, you stole it from peter, but i stole if from some chef in philly who tossed thin, fried crispy leeks in with the french fries. holy jesus those were good. they taste so nice crispy.

again, so glad to have you back bloggin, mama!

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Woah, the lady's right back on form!

Looks great, Heather. Trout's so tasty, too - but rather overlooked these days. Well, over here, anyway.

Heather said...

Alicia - I hope it all worked out for you! I wish my husband liked to fish. :)

Leigh! My favorite UK-based beer lover! Trout is wonderful.

Rick - Pale, mushy leeks are for suckers.

Marky! I'm glad I didn't get sick too. I was definitely holding my breath for the that first night. :P

Will - I have just always found them to be more tart than sweet. For my money, I prefer the Valley Coves and the heirloom navels. /shrug

LostPastRemembered - They sure are.

Amy - Now that I'm getting over my fear of frying, I think trout would make nice fish and chips.

Sketti - It's a shame that trout isn't more popular, since it's one of the more ecologically-correct seafood options available.

M F said...

Totally trying this manana! So glad you are writing again! : )

Lo said...

Nothing like a bit of cornmeal and a cast iron skillet to elevate a fish fillet to a new level. Not to mention what it does to a pork chop!

I'm thinking I need a little bit of that root veggie smash in my life.

Bo said...

That really looks delicious...and I love the plate.