I love trout. I think the shape is as slick as the best fighter jet. My love does not prevent me from catching them. Or cooking them. Pan-fried trout is just something I never tire of.
Technically, this is a spring recipe as you’ll see, but trout are grand anytime. This recipe from Basque Country notes that fishermen venture out into cold spring streams to secure brown trout, ideal for this recipe. Trout and salmon are closely related, but we eat far more salmon than trout. If you’ve had a lifetime of weddings and other celebrations, and a lifetime of salmon, if you don’t relish more pink flesh, then consider trout. In particular, consider this trout idea that doubles down on protein.
If you think of Spanish food, trout may not spring to mind but surely ham does. A trip to a tapas bar is almost sure to include some serrano ham, richly succulent. Combining that ham and trout? An unexpected combination and certainly an unexpected flavor. So, in this Basque idea, we have a marriage of trout and ham. Just trout and ham. No herbs, no veggies. Nothing to detract from the pure trout flavor or the ham bite. Using Serrano ham, with sweet overtones, is a lovely match for the trout.
Yield: serves 4
- 4 small trout (about 8 ounces each), cleaned and butterflied
- Kosher salt
- 6 slices Serrano ham (about 100 g)
- 2 tablespoons milk
- All-purpose flour, for coating
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or lard
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
Rinse the trout with cool water and pat dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle the interior generously with salt and place 1 slice of ham in each fish.
Using a kitchen brush, paint each fish with a bit of milk. Mix the flour and a pinch of salt on a plate and dredge each trout in the flour to evenly coat, shaking off any excess.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 2 slices ham and cook until its fat begins to render and its edges begin to approach crispiness. Remove and set aside. Add one or two trout to the pan and cook for a few minutes on each side, until the fish gains a bit of color. Transfer to a baking sheet and repeat to cook the remaining fish.
Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake for about 5 minutes. Turn the fish and bake for 5 minutes more.
Transfer the fish to a platter. Serve garnished with the reserved ham.
Source: Basque Country by Marti Buckley [Artisan 2018]