Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Fisherman's Etiquette

I believe there is an unwritten rule for sportsmen...bring me something I can cook. My Wasband was a serious sportsman and always made sure to hand me a bag of fillets, a packet of freshly butchered and labeled elk meat, a plucked and cleaned bird, or any other "ready to cook" version of whatever happened to be the catch or kill of the day.

Last Saturday night, I was invited to come over to someone's house to prepare fresh rainbow trout. Imagine my surprise to find 10 whole fish looking at me from inside of a plastic bag.
Well, not entirely whole. The fish had been gutted. Definitely dead. But heads, tails, skin and eyeballs were all intact. Ugh. Couple that with a package of brand new knives and a drawer full of very old dull ones, and I was less than excited.

Fortunately, the person who invited me to this little fish fricassee is fast on his feet. He was smart enough to grab a camera and insist that this was a challenge for the Glass City Gourmet. Ok. He got me. My ego loves a challenge...it also loves a "food stylist" (check out the final frame, careful plating compliments of my loving photographer).

While I sorted through the various knives in search of the perfect blade, his mother called a chef at a local country club to confirm the process. Hold the tail firmly with one hand, and using a slanted knife, use the other hand to slice from the tail to the head in a sweeping motion to remove the fillet.

I can do this. I had actually watched my Wasband do this a number of times. He always worked outdoors on piles of newsprint. I had a cutting board, a knife and a sink nearby.

The first few incisions were sloppy. I missed the bulk of the meat. Damn. After about four fish, I hit my stride. I was filleting like a real fish monger. I had thrown all of the leftover parts into a plastic bag when the lady of the house started asking about fish stock. In all honesty, I've never used it in a recipe. Not that I don't enjoy these challenges...but I thought I had already tempted the kitchen g-ds once tonight with the filleting adventure. So I flashed back to life with the sportsman and remembered him using fish parts to fertilize his rose bushes. BINGO! No more fish stock.

Once I had a nice stack of fish fillets, I contemplated cooking them. With a roll of aluminum foil and an assortment of savory vegetables and white wine, I was ready to make these fillets sing!

Fresh Trout Grilled in Foil

6 fresh fish fillets
1 cup chopped fresh tomato
1 cup chopped artichoke hearts (packed in oil is best)
1/4 c. capers
1/2 c. chopped green olives
6 leaves of basil (chopped)
1 small onion (sliced and separated into rings)
a few sprigs of fresh oregano (washed, stems removed)
a few sprigs of fresh rosemary (washed, stems removed)
2 cloves of garlic (sliced thinly)
1 1/2 c. white wine
olive oil

Tear off one sheet of aluminum foil large enough to create a packet around each fillet. Pour a small amount of olive oil onto the foil. Place the fillet inside with the skin touching the foil. Add a little of each of the ingredients and pour a 1/4 c. of wine on the fillet. Fold the ends of the foil into triangles. Bring up the sides evenly and push the triangles within the two standing sides. Roll the edge until you have a neat, tight packet around the fish that will hold all of the liquid and ingredients within the foil. Repeat for the remaining fillets.

Preheat the grill to about 350 F. Place the fish packets on the grill for about 8-10 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets. Remove from grill. Serve immediately. You may serve the packets on plates. This allows each diner to open the packet and get the great aroma of the baked herbs and seasonings. Or remove the fish from the packets and serve.

I served these fillets with grilled corn and sauteed spinach. The dish was a hit! It could also be made with any other flakey whitefish.

“Glass City Gourmet” is a chronicle of one woman's attempt to cook, eat, diet and entertain with both flair and whimsy while based in Toledo, Ohio. I encourage you to read on as the "Glass City Gourmet" attempts grand recipes, samples locally owned restaurants, visits indigenous markets and humbly pursues her quest to be formally recognized as the official "Glass City Gourmet".

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1 comment:

  1. Hi Karen,

    It was great to get to know you and the thespian BF over dinner last Friday night. (What extra-special fun to meet another local cooking enthusiast!)

    I'll be sure to keep an eye on your blog. Your most recent fish post refers to what may just be the holy trinity of flavors: tomatoes, olives, capers. I'm never without those 3 ingredients in my kitchen.

    Let me know if you would like to co-write a piece someday. It would be fun to cook with you.