Monday, November 5, 2012

Cornmeal-Crusted Trout with Warm Tomato Salsa

I know. Fish are a polarizing food. Whole fish are especially polarizing. We didn't eat a lot of fish growing up, although we asked for fish sticks as kids, which my mom didn't pretend to understand. Really? You want these? With Ketchup? Really?

As a poor college student, I definitely didn't eat fish. Too expensive. I was also too busy eating rice and salsa, which was about the extent of my culinary prowess.

However, I do like fish. David didn't grow up on fish either, so we're en-devouring on this journey together. How exactly to you scale a fish? How do you bone it? Why go to all this effort when you can roast a chicken in 45 minutes flat and not even have to look at the weird fish eye staring at you? 

Because, my precious: "The rock and pool, is nice and cool, so juicy sweet. Our only wish, to catch a fish, so juicy sweet."

SO. Now you have these beautiful fish in your fridge, and they want to be eaten, like, now, or they're going to throw a smelly fit in your fridge.

How do you eat? Skinning/Scaling trout isn't necessary, but as this is our foray into eating the whole fish, I wasn't sure David (or I) would want to eat the skin too
(it's already looking at me!). I've read online that the skin is delicious when crisped, and the epicurious picture for this recipe uses fish exactly like the ones above, skin on. However, I wanted to have some nudie fish.  It's thankfully rather intuitive since I didn't actually think about scaling/skinning the fish until I already had fish all over my hands, and I've never done it before. Instead of washing up and performing a google search, I decided to see how far I could get and stop if necessary. 

Slip the tip of your knife under the skin. My fish were already cleaned, so I started at the cavity. Once you've separated  the meat and the skin in a small area (it will be easier than you think), slide your finger under the skin and separate the rest of the meat and skin. You will need either a sharp knife or kitchen shears to make a clean line at  the head and at the tail.

Cornmeal-Crusted Trout with warm Tomato Salsa (adapted from Bon Appetit)

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
4 12- to 14-ounce whole trout, boned, scaled, heads and tails intact
tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup chopped red onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons minced seeded jalapeno chili
1 1/2 pound tomatoes, seeded (I didn't), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 tablespoons bottled clam juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon chopped green onions

1/4 cup shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas), lightly toasted

    Preheat oven to 375. Line 13x9x2-inch baking dish with foil. Whisk flour, cornmeal, chili powder, and salt in 13x9x2-inch baking dish to blend. Pat trout dry with paper towels. Sprinkle trout cavities with salt and pepper. Coat trout with cornmeal mixture. Leave lying carefully arranged in baking dish, coating fish with as much of the cornmeal mixture on top as possible. Carefully pour 4 tablespoons of olive oil out over fish. Bake fish, uncovered, for 25-35 minutes (until meat flakes, but is still juicy).
    Add onion, garlic, and jalepeno chili to skillet with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sauté until onion is tender, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, clam juice, lemon juice, and honey. Cook just until liquids begin to simmer, about 2 minutes. 

    Remove skillet from heat. Stir in green onions. Season salsa to taste with salt and pepper.

    Spoon salsa over trout. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and serve.


    kristen mrdjanov


    1. Um, yum! Bravo, K. Looks like your foray into cuisine a la poisson is off to a solid start!

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