Saturday, September 12, 2015

Steelhead Trout Sauté with Kinh Gioi Crème

     Steelhead Trout Sauté with Vietnamese Lemon Mint Crème!
     Steelhead Trout is a Rainbow Trout that lives at sea and spawns in fresh water.  Steelhead Trout tend to be bigger and stronger than the average Rainbow Trout.  Steelhead are often marketed as Salmon Trout and the flesh has a deep reddish orange salmon color.  Steelhead taste a little bit more like salmon than Rainbow Trout, because they pretty much live and eat like a salmon.
     Steelhead Trout are an endangered species in most ocean waters.  For the most part, they are not considered to be a sustainable fish.  Steelhead swim upstream to spawn, just like salmon, so if the river is blocked, then no spawning occurs.  Dams and other obstacles that block rivers have caused Steelhead Trout to become low in numbers in many regions.
     The only fishery where Steelhead Trout are in sustainable numbers is the Alaskan fishery and a few other west coast fisheries in Canada where rivers flow freely.  Ocean fish sustainability has turned into an Alaskan motto in recent years.  Alaska has very strict commercial fishing regulations in place that keep ocean seafood stock from being depleted.
     When buying Alaskan fish, a customer can be confident that they will have a guilt free conscience after eating that fish.  The steelhead trout that was cooked for today's recipe example came from a Las Vegas market that only sells sustainable Alaskan seafood.

     Kinh Gioi is also called Vietnamese Balm, Vietnamese Lemon Mint and Lemon Mint.  The mint variety of plants includes perilla, basil and many other herbs.  Not all mint tastes minty.  Lemon Mint has a deep rich lemon flavor with complex Thai Holy Basil and Spearmint undertones.
     When featuring Lemon Mint in a sauce, it is unnecessary to add white wine, lemon or any other herbs to the sauce.  Lemon Mint is a strong herb and it needs no accompanying flavors.  The flavor of the Kinh Gioi Crème Sauce in today's recipe tastes very complex, yet only sea salt and white pepper were the only secondary flavors added.
     I am not a big fan of simply reducing cream to make a cream sauce.  Sometimes a rich reduced cream sauce is not a good choice.  Beurre Manie is made by kneading butter and flour together.  I worked with a French chef from Provence who used beurre manie to thicken all of his seafood sauces.  He liked the way that beurre manie mellowed the flavor of a sauce and how it delicately makes a sauce cling to seafood.  A small amount of whitefish broth (fumet) was added to the cream to add more depth, but this sauce was not made like a velouté, supreme or allemande sauce.  The word "crème" covers a lot of territory when naming a sauce!

     Several classic French cuisson rules for this recipe were used.  Sautéed food is never simmered with liquid, if it is a classic French sauté.  The sauce always goes underneath sautéed food.  When the skin is retained on a fish filet, then the skin must be sautéed till it becomes crisp.  Classically speaking, sautéed fish that has the skin attached must be served with the skin facing up.
     The starch is always served underneath or beside the featured item on a plate.  All garnishes must be functional, complimentary and edible.  If you follow the rules of the classic sauté cuisson, then you will end up with a very nice looking plate of food.
     Crosscheck scoring the fish skin keeps the skin from shrinking and disfiguring the fish filet.  It also makes the fish look nice when it is presented.  Inevitably, a piece of the fish skin may fall off or stick to a pan.  That is okay, as long as most of the skin is intact.  When sautéing fish skin till it becomes crisp, a moderate temperature must be used or the skin will scorch.  Do not be tempted to peek!  Allow the fish skin to pan fry, till the maillard reaction occurs and the skin becomes crisp enough to break free from where it makes contact in the pan.  When the maillard reaction occurs, the skin is cooked crisp!

     Paprika Rice:
     This recipe yields 2 to 3 petite portions.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Add 1 cup of light chicken broth.
     Bring the liquid to a boil.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 1 small pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
     Add 1/2 cup of basmati or long grain rice.
     Step 2:  Bring the liquid back to a boil.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Cover the pot with a lid.
     Simmer till the rice is fully cooked.
     Step 3:  Stir in 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Keep the rice warm on a stove top.

     Kinh Gioi Crème:
     This recipe yields about 1/2 cup.
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 cup of whitefish stock.  (fumet)
     Simmer and reduce the fish stock by half.
     Step 2:  Slowly add 1/2 cup of cream, while stirring.
     Bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
     Step 3:  Make a 2 to 3 tablespoons of beurre manie, by kneading 50% butter with 50% flour.
     Add enough of the beurre manie, while whisking, to thicken the sauce to a medium thin sauce consistency.  (Save any extra beurre manie for another recipe.)
     Step 4:  Remove the sauce from the heat.
     Add 1 small handful of Vietnamese Lemon Mint.  (Kinh Gioi)
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
     Allow the lemon mint leaves to wilt in the sauce.
     Step 5:  Puree the sauce with an electric blending wand, blender or food processor.
     Place the pureed sauce in a sauce pot.
     Keep the kinh gioi crème warm over very low heat.  Add milk if the sauce becomes too thick.

     Steelhead Trout Sauté:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Step 1:  Select a 6 to 8 ounce steelhead trout filet that has the skin attached.
     Cut shallow crosscheck slices through the skin.
     Season the fish with sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.  (Slightly less than medium heat is best!)
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Place the fish in the pan, with the skin side facing down.
     Sauté till the maillard reaction occurs and till the fish skin is crisp.
     Step 3:  Use a spatula to flip the fish.
     Sauté till the fish is fully cooked.
     Remove the pan from the heat.

     Steelhead Trout Sauté with Kinh Gioi Crème:
     Use a ring mold that is almost as wide as the steelhead trout filet to place the paprika rice on the plate.
     Place the sautéed steelhead trout on top of the rice, with the skin facing up.
     Spoon a generous amount of the kinh gioi creme sauce on the plate around the fish.
     Spoon a small amount of the sauce over one corner of the fish filet.
     Place 1 spoonful of small diced roasted red bell pepper on the sauce on the corner of the filet.
     Garnish the roasted red pepper with a small kinh gioi sprig.

     Honestly, the sauce needs nothing more than lemon mint!  Kinh gioi is the perfect herb for fish!

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