Sunday, November 15, 2009

Shoshi's twenty minute whole trout


Photos: Asian market two bottom pics, Mackerel and Bok Choy. Top two pics -Trout

It's funny how I am fond of slow cooking, and complicated methods, all I am posting in this blog are easy and quick recipes. Over the years came to the realization that simplicity is an art form by itself. Sometimes less is more as in this fish. Been to many fish restaurants and often came out so disappointed, just wished for a simply grilled fish without the crab cream sauce on top, just the purest, perfectly grilled or baked whole fish, the perfect moist flaky morsel of a bite with a touch of garlic and lemon. But there was some hope, in the form of Jaleo, a Tapas restaurant in the DC area who has a seasonal item on their menu that reminded me very much of the Mediterranean restaurants back home. The Old Jaffa fish restaurants on the beach just south of Tel Aviv, opening a table with a sea of mezzes and the one, Idi, further south on the Mediterranean, nestled in an industrial area, in my hometown of Ashdod. When you have a pilgrimage from Tel Aviv to Ashdod then you know the restaurant and the fish must be good...it's sort of crossing the American Legion Bridge from Maryland to Virginia for a beltway metaphor or for a historical reference the Mason Dixon line. Look for the the seasonal Mediterranean sea bass at Jaleo and you will understand!! Never mustered the courage to cook a whole fish although had many recipes for it. Felt that I will do it injustice, until my friend, Shoshi nonchalantly baked it almost every Friday and gave me the push to experiment with it. First try was a huge success, I can actually make it, in fact made it twice in a row!! Of course it was baked, perfectly moist in twenty, did not make sense, only twenty?!...so at risking perfection I kept it in for five minutes longer. Sometimes I just can't help myself!!

Ingredients:
2 whole butterflied fish (whole or can ask for guy at the counter the take head off)
Few fresh garlic cloves minced
salt
Freshly grounded black pepper
Lemon

Direction:
1. Rinse Fish and pat dry with paper towel. My sister, I don't, squeezes lemon on it and lets it sit for few minutes in the refrigerator to take all impurities and smell out, and then proceeds to rinse and pat dry. My sister's process actually cures the fish on the way.
2. Salt and pepper and squeeze some lemon inside out.
3. There are two options with the garlic, whether to spread minced garlic inside the fish prior to baking, or sweat garlic in a frying pan in a bit of oil until cooked, add squeezed lemon, salt and pepper to make a garlic sauce, let cool for couple of min. and pour inside the fish prior to baking. Reason is, first time I spread the garlic inside the fish prior to cooking, it cooked perfectly. the second time, the garlic did not cook thoroughly and it had a raw sharp edge to it.
4.Wrap fish individually in a foil envelope and bake for twenty minutes at 400F. Open the top of the envelop to expose the fish and broil for 5 minutes longer unwrapped, to get a golden, bit of a crisp on top, although crispy skin is not the signature of this preparation. Squeeze some more lemon, adjust for salt, and serve right out of the oven. Enjoy the delicate tender flavor of the fish.
Garlic freshness tips:
I think the fresher the garlic is the more tender is its flavor and it will cook beautifully inside the fish, but the less fresh the garlic is, the sharper the flavor will be, and won't necessarily cook inside the fish well. There are two signs the garlic is fresh, when you see purple coloring on the peel and when mincing it's translucent.

Fish freshness tips:
Shoshi is an avid HMart, Asian market shopper. She says that by shear numbers of the seafood consumers at the market, the turnover is immense and therefore insure the freshness of the fish. She's got a point!! It's quite an experience to go to the Asian market, I highly recommend it. Don't be shy to ask to smell the fish, I ask even at Whole Foods to the other shoppers curiosity and the fish counter guy's smirk and giggle.
In DC, there is a Fish Market by the water at 1100 Maine Ave SW, Washington, DC 20024. It's worth the trip downtown.

Shoshi's whole trout variations:
1. Add Italian (flat leaf) parsley or any other fresh herb you have in the fridge (rosemary, thyme, sage, etc.), in addition to the garlic, lemon, salt and pepper, inside and outside the fish cavity prior to baking.
2. Smear the inside the fish with store bought or home made pesto in addition to the garlic, lemon, salt and pepper.

I do not use pine nuts in my pesto due to allergies.

Pairing: Goes well with Orzo and mushrooms dish, in previous entry 'Mushrooms two ways and fish along the way'.

2 comments :

  1. Thanks, Shulie! I am going to try this one.

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  2. I hope you enjoy it Veronica. Many congratulations on your upcoming wedding!!

    ReplyDelete