But I did have a great time on my first attempt – and a successful one! – at deboning a whole trout for stuffing! Â Thanks to Becky’s excellent how-to video, the Stuffed Trout with Nettle-Almond Butter (pg 158) turned out fabulously, although I will admit I had to stop and start the video multiple times and run back to the kitchen each time to execute the steps correctly. Â But education prevailed and you can see for yourself how beautifully I gutted this little fishy!
Becky included this recipe from her friend Chef Ba Culbert at Tilikum Place Cafe, and even though it’s an advanced #5 recipe, it’s well worth your time, if for nothing more than the experience of gutting, deboning, stuffing, etc! Â I did have to substitute spinach for the nettle leaves, since we are well past foraging season for that treat, bit it worked just fine in both the stuffing and almond-butter topping. Â The stuffing also has a great mix of herbs and sliced lemons, and the topping is broiled atop the fish just before serving.
IfÂ you haven’t yet watched any of Becky’s amazing videos at www.GoodFishBook.com, you really should check them out. Â It’s a wealth of information on the various skills you might need in preparing sustainable seafood (cleaning, shucking, debearding, deveining, searing, skinning, filleting, butterflying and all the other fun “ing” words!), all in bite-size 5-10 minute video format. Â She’s funny, smart, quick and skilled in showing you the techniques most of us either pretend to know or run screaming from.
Back to the fish – I made two beautiful stuffed trout, secured with short toothpicks, seared for a few minutes in the cast iron pan, and then finished off in the oven for five minutes. Â After they cooled, I packed them up in a little secure foil suitcase in the cooler for their exciting trip to the Woodland Park Zoo, where I was joining three friends for the kd Lang concert that evening. Â I wasn’t too sure about the brilliance of bringing stinky fish to eat for the picnic, but since I knew I couldn’t eat two whole fish by myself (!), I decided they would be benefiting from my hard work that day.
I’m not sure how thrilled my friends were when I unveiled the fish, with those little beady eyes staring up at them, but soon everyone was raving about the great flavor and the beautiful presentation of the fish. Â I particularly liked putting a forkful of everything on a Beechers cracker – yum! Â And I’m not saying I snuck in a bottle of gruner veltliner to drink with the trout, but if I had, it would have been the perfect dry, white, crisp pairing to a delish dish and evening with friends, music, sunshine, kd lang and all the animals – human and otherwise – at the Zoo.
The only *slight* scare of the night turned into being the most hilarious part of the evening, at least for my friend Becky (not the famous chef Selengut!) and I. Â After a couple bites of the trout, I felt a little tickle at the back of my throat…or was it a bone?…or was it one of those little chopped off toothpicks holding the fish together?? Â Crap, I forgot to take those out before we starting eating!
As I worried silently over what havoc that might cause to my digestive system, I looked over at Becky and she had a strange, pensive look on her face. Â I innocently said “watch out for the toothpicks” and smiled, then admitting I might have swallowed one. Â She said “I think I did too” and we both cracked up, although in a very nervous way!
And then at some point during the chorus of “Constant Craving”, I noticed Becky was madly typing away on her Droid, very intent on something. Â Thinking it was rude to not be paying attention to the fabulous Ms. Lang’s singing, Becky showed me her phone and the next few minutes resulted in a riotous reading of various websites about what to do if you swallow a toothpick! Â OMG, you wouldn’t believe the things people will put on the web!
I will leave you with the most helpful piece of advice she found – “The best solution is to just swallow a couple of olives to keep the poor toothpick company!” Â Well said and back to the concert…
Question A: What’s your favorite food to take to a concert picnic?
Question B: Have you ever swallowed a toothpick?