Baked Whole Rainbow Trout
Friday, 11 March 2011
Last week the deal from the fishmonger at the farmers’ market was whole trout. I had never baked a whole fish before, but I had heard that baking it whole with all the skin and bones makes for a much juicer, tastier fish (much like how meat cooked on the bone is the most tender and flavorful). So I decided to give it a try. Besides, these were beautiful fish, with their shiny, reflective coats that give the image of a rainbow in the right light.
Baking a whole fish has always seemed intimidating, because I never knew what to do with them. But I learned from the fishmonger that they are already gutted even when you buy them whole, so at least I didn’t have to worry about that part of it. I looked up several recipes on the internet, and most of them called for stuffing the cavity with lemon, some kind of herbs, and butter or olive oil, wrapping them and baking. The only herbs I had on hand were rosemary, which grows in my garden year-round, so that was what I used, along with lemon, butter and sea salt. I simply wrapped them in parchment paper and baked them in a shallow baking dish at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes. Also, I spread some asparagus spears, drizzled with olive oil and salt, in the same pan to roast along with the fish. The timing was perfect, everything was perfectly tender at the same time.
1lb. whole trout (2 small or 1 large)
2 T butter, divided
2-3 lemon slices per fish
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
Sea salt & cracked pepper
Wash the fish and pat try with a paper towel. Lay in the center of a large piece of parchment paper. Stuff the inner cavity with the butter, lemon slices and rosemary sprigs. Sprinkle with sea salt and cracked pepper. Seal the paper (by rolling the ends together and fastening with staples) and bake in a shallow dish for 20 minutes at 400 degrees F. It’s very easy and practical to roast some vegetables along with the fish, such as asparagus, zucchini, peppers, etc. Just drizzle them with olive oil and salt, and turn them halfway through cooking. You can also wrap some vegetables inside the parchment paper along with the fish, if there is room. They will be very juicy and tender.
Sometimes whole fish are sold de-boned, but in this case we had to de-bone it ourselves. It’s not too difficult after the fish are cooked, you just remove the head and tail and fins, then open the cavity and pull the whole spine out from one end. This will not get out all the bones from the backbone, so you have to be careful and watch for them while you’re eating. But cooking the fish with all the bones definitely made it much juicier and flavorful! You can eat the skins too, they contain a lot of healthy fats and omega-3’s.