Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Coconut Chilli Trout

 Coconut Chilli Trout
The poor fish lingered in our basement freezer since fishing season closed, a couple of months ago. Caught from a privately stocked pond, it was quite the prize.  Most fish around here are much smaller, so this one was pretty special.  But when a fish is this big, you need to have company for dinner, especially when you consider yourself a vegetarian.  Even a hypocritical vegetarian, I suppose.  So I was thrilled when I finally had reason to haul it upstairs to become our object of glory. 
Anyway, last weekend rolled around and knowing we were having guests, I began the thawing process.  I didn’t need the fish to be fully thawed, just soft enough to pry open and stuff with juicy flavourings.  Cooking times will change depending on whether your fish is fresh, partially frozen or completely thawed.  Heat oven to 350F.

1 three pound trout (or purchased salmon if need be)
This large Indian bay leaf is tastier than the N. American one.
¼ coconut, fresh and cracked out of shell 
6 Thai chillies
1 inch ginger

5 garlic cloves
3 pieces of cassia bark
2 big Indian bay leaves
coarse salt

20 grates black pepper
lemon, sliced into wedges
cilantro (optional)

I had used most of the coconut a while ago, and had this amount waiting for me in the freezer.  Once thawed, I was able to break pieces away from the shell and I put those in the blender, along with the chillies, ginger and cloves.  If you’re using fresh coconut, all the better.  Grind it as fine as possible.
Take out a big piece of aluminum foil, big enough to wrap the fish.  Place a bay leaf and a couple of cassia sticks on the foil and rest the fish on top of the leaf and sticks.  Stuff the cavity of the fish with most of the coconut mixture, along with the other bay leaf and a piece of cassia.  Spoon the rest of the mixture outside the fish, so it rests on that.  Wrap the fish tightly.  Bake in oven for one hour.  Because I wasn’t sure how long this might take, I fetched it out from time to time, unwrapped it, and peaked. 

Once the flesh is opaque and it flakes with a fork, let it rest on the counter for about ten minutes, covered.  Uncover, place on a platter along with lemon wedges and cilantro leaves, if you have them.  (As usual, I forgot to buy them.  Summer is so much easier when I can just go and pick!)

As you can see we had a rather elegant feast.  Trout, shrimp, fancy basmati rice, roastedrutabaga, channa and store bought lacha paratha that needed to be puffed up on a griddle.  My only regret was that I had no time to make cardamom baked apples, which would have had a perfect syrup what with all this oven cooking going on.  Alas no time, so I served store bought soan papdi and dates instead.
It’s certainly wonderful to have a fisherman in our life.  He’s back in Goa right now, not uploading pictures to Facebook, by the way. Hint Hint.  We’ll be joining him in less than two weeks, and meanwhile we’re looking forward to more of his catches!

Recipe for this fancy basmati rice coming soon!

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