A Neighbor's Bounty: Rainbow Trout Amandine

A couple of weeks ago, our next door neighbor came by after a long afternoon practicing fly-fishing on a nearby pond. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources stocks several ponds in our area with rainbow, golden and brown trout in the spring and fall, and Wayne and his more experienced buddy had caught quite a few beauties. Not bad for a novice fly-fisher, no? Problem for them was that neither of their families really cared for freshwater fish, so he offered us four rainbow trout from their bounty. How lucky are we?! (When we lived on Oahu, we had a similar experience when our next door neighbors gifted us with a 2lb slab of ahi tuna they had just caught that also yielded multiple wonderful meals.)

I immediately abandoned what I was doing to clean the fish, and prep two for freezing. Actually, I tried to give one of the cleaned trout to another neighbor while it was still fresh but they weren't home that afternoon — so into the freezer they went.

One of the trout had an additional surprise: a roe sack! Not quite sure what to do with it, but knowing it was a valuable find, I removed the sack as intact as possible and left it in a sea salt brine while the preparations continued. (More on that another time.)

For this recipe I used the two smallest trout of the bunch, but they were still about a pound each. I had not had the opportunity to prepare fresh whole fish like this since we left Hawaii, so I was actually glad to have the practice even though it meant dealing with fish guts. (smile) It took almost an hour to clean and scale all four trout, so yes, I was definitely out of practice. But in the end, that marriage of sweet fish and buttery, crunchy almond sauce made it so worthwhile.

Thank you, Wayne, for this unexpected, delightful surprise!

Serves 2 persons

2 rainbow trout, about 1 lb (455g) each, cleaned and scaled
1 lemon, scrubbed well
sea salt
ground black pepper
3-4 TBL flour, for dusting fish
4-5 TBL safflower or olive oil (safflower is preferred because it has a higher smoking point)

Pre-heat a large skillet (big enough to hold both of your fish) over medium high heat.

Slice lemon in half lengthwise, then crosswise into ¼ inch slices (you're making little half-moons).

Pat fish dry with a paper towel, both inside and out. Season with sea salt and ground black pepper, both inside and out. Lay 3-4 half-slices of lemon inside each fish.

Sprinkle outside of fish with flour. Add oil to heated pan, then carefully lay each trout in the hot oil. If you have a splatter screen, you'll want to use it now; if you don't have a splatter screen (like me) use the skillet cover to reduce some of the splatter, but leave it ajar. (Yes, my stove area was a bit of a mess doing this dish!)

Cook for about 5-7 minutes, then carefully turn each fish over. Cook for additional 6-8 minutes, or until the interior of the fish flakes when probed with a fork.

Remove fish to large platter and cover to keep warm while finishing the almond butter sauce.

To finish Sauce:
½ cup (58g) sliced or slivered almonds
3 TBL unsalted butter
sea salt
juice from half a lemon (about 2 TBL)
flat-leaf parsley, minced

Drain oil from skillet, if necessary, and return pan to medium heat. Add almonds, and stir until they begin to release a toasty aroma, about 1-2 minutes. Add butter, salt and lemon juice and cook for another minute. Remove from heat and stir in parsley.

Pour butter and almonds over fish. Garnish with additional lemon slices and parsley, if desired.

Since this was an unplanned meal, we supplemented what was already available that day — pickled radishes, and the last of the nasturtium leaves and blossoms from the garden to balance the rich butter dressing; basmati rice and steamed brussels sprouts round out the meal.

We still have 2 larger trout in the freezer, and we already know how we want to prepare one of those: Sumac Trout! Stay tuned.

We do love fish! Some of the other recipes you'll find around here:
Pan-Roasted Haddock with Mustard Cream Sauce
Cod with Mango-Sake Sauce
Steamed Fish with Ginger and Scallions
Kasu-marinated Butterfish
Baked Monchong with Hummous Crust
Mahimahi Patties with Lemongrass and Lime Leaf
Pan-Fried Opakapaka with Warm Spice Cabbage
Nori-Wrapped Walu & Shrimp with Papaya Coulis
Grilled Ehu in Banana Leaf
Kajiki with Pomegranate Ogo
Wahoo Fish Pie
Fish Tacos
Roasted Kabocha Salmon Patties