BY RICHARD MOOREY
IT SEEMS like I’ve always got a story to tell about some ingredient that I’ve acquired or a fresh and vibrant donation from someone’s garden that is just screaming to be turned into something delicious. Maybe it’s a fresh bit of game dropped off at my house or even a photo, a recipe suggestion or foodie idea sent in from a friend.
Whatever the inspiration is, the thing I marvel at most is how many of my gastronomic creations are seeded by family and friends. It really could be anything that sparks the next dish of deliciousness but I’ve certainly come to appreciate the fact that so many of my culinary creations start so close to home.
This week it all began with a simple photo that my step dad Jon snapped of my mom Janet holding an amazing lake trout that she caught on Lake Nipigon. This gorgeous fresh water monster immediately started me thinking about fresh lake trout recipes that I have made in the past and thoughts of new flavours for lake trout yet to be thought of. (Of course the knowledge that a little of this giant might end up in my fridge doesn’t stymie the creative process either. . .wink, wink.)
Lake trout is a delicious fish that carries a lot of flavour. The big cold water trout have a tendency to carry more fat and while some people dislike this I see it as nothing but a positive.
From a chef’s perspective the deep water monsters have more fat and fat is flavour. When you cook a fillet like this the fat also renders during the cooking process and bastes the meat keeping it moist and delicious. With traits like these what’s not to like about lake trout? They are definitely a foundation to building a meal with some serious tastitude.
A fish like this loves big bright bold flavours that your spice cabinet might have. Spices like chipotle, paprika and even curries work well. Don’t, however, be afraid to try any spice that strikes you as a possibility as there is no right and wrong here.
Citrus and fresh herb are also great with lake trout. Don’t limit yourself to lemon either. Oranges, limes, blood oranges, key limes and grapefruit work especially well as flavour boosters for this beautiful catch and for some texture don’t exclude the possibility of using things like nuts and seeds or even panko bread crumbs.
The next time you happen to haul in a big lake trout or happen to get your hands on a few fillets, let it inspire your culinary creativity. Get your cook on and explore your flavour options. Here’s a recipe that might help to get you started and inspire your next flavour adventure.
Chef House’s Pan Seared Trout with Grilled Grapefruit, Toasted Sunflower Seed and Fresh Thyme
2 10 oz lake trout fillets (scaled with skin on)
2 tbsp. melted butter
1 tsp. chipotle spice
1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds
4 thick slices grapefruit
3 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. fresh thyme
Preheat grill on high.
Lightly pulse the toasted sunflower seeds in a food processor and set aside.
Drizzle the butter over the lake trout fillets and sprinkle with chipotle spice and salt and pepper to taste. Press the ground sunflower seeds onto the top of the fillets.
Place a heavy cast iron skillet on the grill to heat.
Grill the grapefruit slices to get a little char on both sides while the pan heats.
When the pan is hot drizzle the olive oil in and place the fish in skin side down. Lay the grilled grapefruit slices on the trout.
Turn off the heat on one side of the grill and move the cast iron pan to the cool side of the grill and close the lid.
Let the fish bake until opaque in the middle about 20 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets.
Remove the pan and sprinkle each with some fresh thyme. Serve hot.
Richard Moorey (aka Chef House) can be reached with email to email@example.com, through his website at www.evot.ca, or on his Facebook group Evolution of Tastitude. You can follow him on Twitter @House_74.