pan-seared trout with sautéed fennel and fried capers
Today was meant to be a good day. The day my stitches come out after my dentistry adventure. Well the stitches came out. That was then followed by an impromptu root canal. A root canal. Why do my teeth hate me? I try to take care of them, give them a good life. Yet my nerve was apparently so unhappy that it desperately sought a way out. And now I’m left with a temporary filling that means, that’s right, several more trips to the dentist. It’s too discouraging to think about. So in an effort to distract myself… I thought I’d share this fantastic dish I made a ways back and never posted!
Up here in the Andes seafood is not the freshest ingredient to get our hands on. Which is why when a shipment does come in, I jump on it. I’m usually most excited for salmon, or tuna (which I can never afford of course, but I like looking at it and imagining…) but I never thought I’d be excited for trout. Plain old, caught it in the rivers growing up, trout. Maybe it’s the feeling of seeing something so… home. I jumped on it. And I mean that rather literally, because there is so little of the fish that you really do need to be nimble to make sure you leave with any of it!
Being as it is a humble fish, I wanted to do something rustic with it but playing with flavors and dressing it up with some unexpected ingredients. Like fennel! Maybe that doesn’t sound unexpected to you, but I have seen fennel here all of one time. And that one time just so happened to coincide with finding trout. Talk about a successful grocery run!
2 small trout fillets
2 tbsp capers
1 tsp olive oil
1 fennel bulb, sliced
1/4 tsp ras el hanout
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
fennel fronds, for garnish
for red wine dressing:
1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp red wine
1 garlic clove, crushed
sea salt, extra
cracked black pepper
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
To make the dressing, combine red wine vinegar, red wine, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly add olive oil to the mixture, whisking constantly until thickened. Set aside.
Heat a cast iron pan over medium heat. Using paper towel, squeeze as much of the liquid from the capers as possible. Place directly into the pan and fry, turning the capers until crispy. Remove capers from pan, set aside and keep warm.
Add olive oil to pan and increase heat. Add the sliced fennel and sautée for 1 minute. Add ras el hanout and sea salt, tossing to coat. Sautée until caramelized. Add cherry tomatoes and cook until just starting to burst. Set the fennel/tomato mixture aside and keep warm.
Reduce heat back to medium and add some more oil, if needed. Place trout fillets in the pan, skin-side down. Cook for 1-2 minutes, flip and cook for about one more minute.
Place fennel/tomato mixture on plates, then the trout fillets on top. Top with red wine dressing and garnish with fennel fronds.
I may need to spend more time with my teeth from now on. I hope you understand. It’s about priorities, you see…