The buttery delight that bubbled up in front of me as I made this dish last week was almost worth the grief my astonishing fish ignorance caused me.
When I go to the fish, I’m generally a salmon man, and dealing with bones is not an issue. Just season it, cook it, and send it to its demise.
So, when I bought trout instead of salmon, I expected the same easy preparation.
Not the case. As MG informed me, trout are cut lengthwise and salmon are cross-cut. “If you got yourself a salmon fillet,” he informed me with authority and gusto, “it would be about three feet long – they’re big fish – big enough that they can cut them cross-wise.” He impressed me so much with his ability to immediately bring up such amazing fish knowledge that when I told him I was incorporating his explanation into my post, I was a bit disappointed when he backed off immediately and said, “well, I think that’s the reason.” “Too late,” I told him, “it sounds right… so it’s going in.”
Right or wrong, had I more time to look into it that evening (the potatoes were already simmering), I would have discovered a much easier approach to de-boning the trout than what I actually ended up doing, which was basically just digging each teeny-weeny bone out with my fingers and in the process tearing up two perfectly good fillets.
If you ever find yourself needing to de-bone a trout, here’s really all you need to do: run the back of your knife down the fillet, starting at the head. You’ll feel small bones protruding in a line down the center of the fish at half-inch intervals. Gently pull out the pin bones at a 45 degree angle towards the head of the fish. You can use needle-nose pliers, fish bone tweezers, or regular tweezers.
Say what? There’s actually something on the market called fish bone tweezers? Indeed there is. They cost between $20 and $30 and work exacly like regular tweezers. Actually, I’m sure you can find a pair for cheaper, but if they aren’t available at Williams Sonoma, you know there’s absolutely no way in hell to justify their existence. And, aside from the damage I did to the look of the trout fillets, the shattered pieces still tasted just as good.
- 2 trout fillets
- 2 pinches kosher salt
- 1 cup flour
- 1 oz olive oil
- 4 Tbsp butter
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- 1/2 lemon
Heat a large saute pan on medium heat. Season the trout fillets (or in my case, broken trout chunks) with salt and coat them lightly in the flour. Add the olive oil to the pan and toss in the fish. Cook for 2 minutes until golden brown, then flip them over, and cook for another 2 minutes.
Here’s where the prep time pays off – add the butter into the fish until it froths and browns. Oh, if only I had taken more than just the one picture of this moment. In fact, it’s worth taking a second look, so let’s do just that.
Now take the fish out, and add the almonds to the browned butter. Place back on medium high heat until the almonds turn golden brown, but watch them carefully or they’ll burn before you know it. Take the pan off the heat, squeeze the lemon in, and quickly season with the salt. Spoon the sauce over the fish and served immediately. Add some blue cheese mashed potatoes and serve to your super-smart boyfriend!
As you can see, I also left a bit of a frustration mess in my wake. I didn’t bother cleaning until the next day. You shouldn’t either.