Monday, September 21, 2009

Rainbow Trout with Lemongrass Gremolata and Miso-Glazed Eggplant

I’ve been craving lemongrass for several weeks now. I love the delicate fragrance of lemongrass. I’d been noticing the slender yellow stalks peaking out beneath the piles of exotic Asian vegetables at our farmers markets.  If you’re not familiar with lemongrass, it’s a common ingredient in Thai food (imagine lemon without the pucker).  As I’m inclined to do at farmers markets, I picked up a bundle without having the slightest clue what I’d make with it when I got home. Two purple Japanese eggplants made their way into the shopping bag too. Food shopping impulsively at farmers markets is the polar opposite of how I shop in a grocery store; I always shop with a list (more on that in another post).

As I pondered how to use the lemongrass, I remembered a fabulous recipe I made years ago from Epicurious.com: Rainbow Trout with Apple Pearls, Lemongrass Gremolata Crumbs, and Mosel Riesling. My mouth literally waters when I think about this recipe. It’s delicious, elegant and impressive. When I first made this dish I made it with the butter sauce. Totally delicious but very, very rich, so I decided not to make the sauce this time, and it was just as good and far less caloric. If you’re entertaining, make the sauce. I served the trout with a Miso Glazed Eggplant recipe from in Sunset magazine (September 2009). The issue also had a great article on buying sustainable fish in the western U.S. Rainbow trout was on the list and it was cheap, two whole fish cost $8!

Rainbow Trout with Apple Pearls, Lemongrass Gremolata Crumbs, and Mosel Riesling
Serves 4

Ingredients (for recipe without butter sauce)
For lemongrass oil and gremolata crumbs
4 stalks fresh lemongrass
¾ cup grapeseed oil or canola oil
½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp. finely rasped lime zest (1 lime)
1 cup panko crumbs (Japanese bread crumbs)
½ kosher salt

For apple pearls
2 tart firm-flesh apples (Pink Pearl, Pink Lady, or Gala)
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. grapeseed oil or canola oil

For fish
4 (12oz) rainbow trout, cleaned, boned, and head removed, leaving rest of fish whole

Preparation
Lemongrass oil and gremolata crumbs:
Discard 1 or 2 outer layers from lemongrass and trim root end. Mince lower part of stalks for gremolata crumbs (3 to 4 tbls.). Cut remainder of stalks, except reedy branches at top, into ½-inch slices, then puree with oil in a blender until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Force puree through a fine sieve into a bowl, pressing hard on solids, then discarding them.

Blend 1/3 cup lemongrass oil with minced lemongrass (for gremolata), parsley, and zest in cleaned blender until parsley is minced, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl and add panko and salt, stirring until crumbs are bright green, then spread gremolata crumbs in a shallow (1-inch) baking pan.
Gremolata crumbs

Peel apples and cut out as many pearl-size balls as possible with a melon-ball cutter. Drop balls as cut into a small shallow baking pan and toss first with lemon juice and then with oil.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bake gremolata crumbs and apples
Bake gremolata crumbs in upper third of oven, stirring occasionally, until crisp but still green, not golden, 8-10 minutes. Bake apples in lower third of oven until just heated through, about 5 minutes.

Cook trout while gremolata and apples are baking:
Open trout like a book so that they lie flat, then pat dry and season both sides with salt and pepper. Heat 1 ½ tbls. of lemongrass oil in each skillet (2 trout per skillet) over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Slide butterflied trout, skin sides down, into each skillet (they will fit better if you alternate them head to tail; don’t worry if edges of fish go up sides of skillet slightly). Reduce heat to moderate and cook until only a patch of pink flesh remains in center of each fillet, 7 to 12 minutes (fish will continue to cook from residual heat; do not turn over).

Lift 1 trout with a slotted spatula, then rest spatula (with fish on paper towels and blot both sides of fish lightly. Transfer fish to plate, placing it off center. Repeat with remaining trout. Spoon about ¼ cup of gremolata crumbs on 1 side of each fish, letting excess spill onto plate. Gently fold other side over crumbs and pour butter source around it. Scatter apple pearls on top and sprinkle with more gremolata crumbs.
Miso-Glazed Eggplant

Ingredients
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
4 Japanese eggplants, cut in half lengthwise and flesh scored ¼ inch deep
1/3 yellow or red miso (refrigerated, usually by the tofu in stores)
2 tbsp. packed brown sugar
2 tbsp. sake or white wine
¼ tsp. red chile flakes
¼ cup cilantro leaves
1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds

Preparation
Preheat broiler with a rack 4 inches from heat source. Heat oil in ovenproof frying pan over high heat. Add eggplant, flesh side down, and cook until flesh starts to brown and soften (4-6 minutes depending on size of eggplants). In a small bowl, combine miso, sugar, sake and chile flakes. Turn eggplant flesh side up and brush mixture over it. Broil eggplant in plan until glaze starts to brown, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro and sesame seeds.

Dinner Is Served!

Tips and Tidbits
This photo of the completed dinner makes me laugh (and cringe) because I think I did every possible thing wrong that a newbie food blogger could do. I picked a very ambitious menu. My husband spent hours figuring out proper lighting to take photos in our kitchen, and we took dozens (and dozens) of photos of the preparation, fussing with staging them, and by the time we finally got the food plated, we were so hungry, we barely took any photos of the finished dish. And the photos we did end up with do not do the dish justice at all. You’re just going to have to trust us on this one—the fish is scrumptious, light and lemony.

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