Ingredients

4 heads freshly chopped garlic 
3 to 4 dozen whole fresh sage leaves 
6 to 12  sprigs fresh spicy oregano 
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cleaned and butter flied trout (any species) 
¼ cup spice mix (Old Bay seasoning, lemon pepper, coarsely ground black pepper, garlic salt, ground cumin & Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning)
 
Note: Your fish should be scaled, cleaned and butter flied. I prefer to keep the heads on for presentation. However, if this is a bit rustic for you or your family, you can use just the lower portions. 


Directions

1. Place each trout skin side down and brush the flesh side liberally with olive oil, being sure to coat all the meat. Next, rub the spice mixture into the meat, ensuring that the spices are evenly spread over the entire inside of the fish. Sprinkle chopped garlic over the spices so that it is evenly distributed on both sections of the inside of the fish. Finally, lay 8 – 10 fresh sage leave inside each fish. 
2. Fold the halves of the fish together and thread a wooden skewer through both sides to close up and hold the fish in place. Brush both sides of each fish with ample amounts of olive oil (this will keep the skin from sticking to the hot skillet) and coat one side liberally with the spice rub. Feel free to literally rub the spices into the skin as you will loose much of the coating when as the fish cooks and when you turn it over to cook the second side.
3. Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat, ensuring that the cooking surface is nice and hot before adding your fish. A good way to test this is to drip a small amount of olive oil into the pan. It should sizzle loudly but not immediately burn off. Once the skillet has warmed up sufficiently, place the fish spiced side down into the pan. (Depending on the size of your cast iron skillet, you should be able to cook two fish simultaneously.) Brush the upper side of the fish with a fresh coat of olive oil and liberally sprinkle the exposed skin with more of the spice rub. 
4. Cook one side of the fish for 2 to 3 minutes until the skin is nice and crispy, but not burned, on the bottom side. Since your cast iron skillet is nice and hot, it will not take long to cook the trout, so it is important to keep an eye on the skin touching the hot surface. (This is where a nice fish spatula comes in handy. Fish spatulas are designed to be very thin with less surface area that a traditional spatula. This will allow you to maneuver the spatula between the fish and the pan while keeping the skin intact and free of the hot skillet surface. 
5. Once the bottom skin is crispy and brown, turn the fish over to cook second side by holding onto the wooden skewer and gingerly lifting using the spatula to lift it out of the pan. Cook the second side for another 2 to 3 minutes until the skin is golden brown and crispy to match the previously cooked portions. Remove the trout from the skillet and place on a metal baking dish. Cover the cooked fish with aluminum foil to keep it warm while you cook the rest of your fish. 
Repeat the searing process with your remaining fish and serve warm over a bed of wild rice or beside a nice chilled garden salad of fresh greens. 
 
Recipe courtesy of Dane Tullock, Cooking in the Great Outdoors, 2012.


This dish combines fresh herbs, simple ingredients such as olive oil and garlic, and one of my favorite protein sources, trout, to create a hearty main dish that goes well with wild rice, grilled vegetables or even a simple salad.
To truly make this dish shine, you will need a well seasoned cast iron skillet to cook your fish. The key is to produce medium to high heat and cook the fish quickly. If cooked properly, the result will be a layer of crispy, spice-coated skin covering soft, flaky flesh and a aroma of garlic and fresh herbs that will have your friends and family racing to the dinner table.
If prepared correctly, your dinner guests should be able to remove the light, tasty flesh of the trout with a fork, releasing steam and the smell of fresh sage and garlic from the inside of the fish. The olive oil on the interior of the fish will have literally steamed the meat from the inside, infusing it with the taste of your spices, herbs and garlic.
Now you can sit back with a cold craft beer and listen to the delighted sounds of your guests enjoying the fruits of your culinary labor. I suggest pairing this dish with a nice IPA or brown ale to compliment light, herby flavor of the trout. 


Pan-seared Trout
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