If you have a fish, a fire, a skillet, and some spices, this challenge was made for you. —INGRAIN, Summer 2018
A makeshift fire, an iron skillet, and that bag of pantry spices you actually remembered to put in the backpack. That’s all it took to transform a couple of lakeside trout into a campfire dinner with the confidence of a short-order grill cook. What happened to the fearless fish grill master once you got back home? Farm-raised rainbow trout are easy to manage on the grill. You’ve got this.
Pairing Nothing goes better with a whole grilled trout than a beautiful tall, cold glass of pilsner. Great picks include Prima Pils by Victory Brewing Co. or a lemony, grassy Zephyrus Pilsner from Elysian Brewing Co.
Kosher salt (or sea salt)
Aromatics (lemons, red onions, garlic, parsley, other herbs)
To serve: parsley tapenade (ingredients and recipe below)
Grill (or skillet)
Aluminum pizza screen (optional)
1. SEASON FISH. Season with salt and pepper, brush with olive oil, and stuff the cavity with aromatics (lemons, red onions, garlic, parsley, and other herbs).
2. CLOSE CAVITY. Truss or tie the fish snugly in several places (head, tail, and belly multiple times) with kitchen twine, so the cavity is completely closed.
3. ADD HEAT. Grill the fish, covered, until flesh is tender and juicy and skin begins to loosen from the grill. Flip the fish halfway through cooking.
4. CUT AND REMOVE. Cut twine from the fish and remove the aromatics. Serve the fish whole with the grilled and fresh lemons and alongside parsley tapenade.
Makes enough tapenade for 2 fish
Zest + juice of 1 small lemon
Handful of parsley
Zest of a small lemon and chopped leaves of a handful of parsley sprigs in a small serving bowl.
Wet ingredients. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and a generous pour of olive oil.
Sea salt into the lemon juice mix.
Tell your fishmonger how you would like your fish prepped. Do it quickly. These guys work at lightning speed. (Oops, there goes the head.)
Farm-raised rainbow trout is sustainable and readily available. You want the smaller, freshwater variety worthy of Andy Griffith fishing trips, not the coastal version of rainbow trout more commonly known as steelhead. The latter is more akin to salmon in size, flavor, and flesh color.
Order the fish whole but leave the grunt work to the professionals. Have your fishmonger ditch the scales and gut the insides, a technique known as butterflying (the fish backbone will still be attached so the fish opens like a book). The delicate bones will still be intact, a fact worthy of sharing with guests.
Lightly season the fish and stuff it with aromatics. Let the freshness of the fish be the highlight: sea salt, fresh herbs, lemons, garlic, and maybe a few red onions. Stop while you’re ahead and tie up that fish.
CLEAN AND PREP THE GRILL
This is not the time for pork rib drippings. Brush a layer of vegetable oil on the grill grate to help keep the fish skin from sticking or use an aluminum pizza screen. The compact mesh is ideal for grilling delicate fish. Pizza screen, $9.95-$12, Sur La Table
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