Dads Helping Dads Figure Out Being a Dad

Trout with lemon pepper sauce and rice

A good friend of mine is Japanese, and he will absolutely not eat rice unless it is normal (i.e., not quick rice) made in a rice cooker or on the stove top.  His preference is definitely the rice cooker.  Rice cookers are cheap gadgetry for the kitchen — for $15-$30, you can pick one up.  Once you use one, rice is one of the easiest sides to make, and you will turn to it all of the time.  Additionally, they come with convenient baskets that can be used to steam meat and vegetables while cooking the rice.

Costco carries (seasonally) very good flash-frozen trout in the freezer section.  The steaks are pre-portioned and come in a bag (which is around 3 pounds).  Trader Joe’s is another excellent source for fish.  Frozen fish tends to be better than fresh or previously frozen.  Try frozen, especially for those (like me!) who are very picky about their fish.

First, start the rice, following the instructions for the rice cooker.  Generally, this means using the little measuring cup to portion the rice and filling the cooker to the corresponding line with water.  Add olive oil and a healthy portion of salt (if you are concerned with sodium, use sea salt which is saltier for the same amount of salt).

Season your fish.  I like to use some mixture of: salt (I usually use kosher, but sea salt is good too), fresh cracked black pepper, rosemary, dill, tarragon and a bit of summer savory.

Take a large skillet and add olive oil over medium heat.  When the oil acquires a sheen, add the already-thawed fish.  Flip when it has browned and cook to desired internal temperature.

The FDA recommends cooking fish to an internal temp of 145 degrees.  Given that I like my steak bleu and my fish raw, I often blow off FDA guidelines in terms of cooking temps for steak and fish (do you do everything your government tells you to?).  However, for freshwater fish I generally fully cook the fish.  Why?  Well, salt water is great for killing off nasties, whereas fresh water is not.  I think (without any evidence, mind you) that saltwater fish is safer rare-raw than freshwater fish.

Once the fish are finished cooking, remove them from the pan, cover with foil to keep warm, and set aside.  Turn off the heat and immediately add a couple of ounces of lemoncello liqueur.  Immediately use a fire stick (long handled lighter) to ignite the alcohol and then turn the heat back on.  Shake the pan until the flames extinguish.  Make sure to keep a fire extinguisher handy.  DISCLAIMER: It’s your own fault if you burn your house down.

After the flames die down, scrape off all of the stuck-on bits in the pan using a wooden spoon.  These bits are called fond and are the foundation of most french sauces.  They bring a enormous amount of flavor to the sauce.  Add a little cream, some coarse cracked pepper, a little fish stock (if you have it) and a little white wine.  Check the flavor.  If it needs some sweetness (which it probably does), add honey (note: if your kids are too young to eat honey, add white sugar instead).  If it is too sweet, add a bit more white wine.  The sauce should be over heat, so the wine will cook off.  Once the flavor is right, add a small amount of arrowroot powder or cornstarch.  Once it boils, remove from heat and stir to thicken.

I usually plate this dish with a mound of rice in the middle of the plate and topped with a piece of fish with sauce ladled over the top.  Alternatively, rice can be served on the side, with the sauce ladled directly onto the plate and the fish placed on top (this is a more formal presentation , intended to show off the protein).

Category: Recipes
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