I love fishing. Not like deep ocean water on a boat, strapped to the pole, fingers crossed I don’t die fishing.
Not even really in a boat fishing.
Just mid summer, on a dock or shoreline, feeling the sun dry my lake drenched hair from a day in the water as the sunsets fishing.
Not even really the fishing that gets you a big haul of fish, to clean and cook.
I don’t really care if I catch anything.
There’s just something about it. Sitting in the sun with a dropped line. Feeling the weight of the gravity on the waves of the water. Light. Or strong.
That split focus of never taking your eye off the bobber and letting your mind wander back to sixth grade or three summers ago or last winter.
It requires patience, humility, attention. Disciplines that did not come naturally to me, but that are now a part of my nature from the practice.
Is it great to lip grab a bass and snap a picture? It is great to toss a few in the basket, hoping maybe this time we’ll catch enough for a fish dinner? It is thrilling when your son catches a fish for the first time, only to have a larger fish jump out of the water to try to grab the fish he’s pulling through the surface?
But when I think of fishing I don’t think of a taut line. I don’t think of a wild reel. I don’t think of the dance it requires to succeed.
I think of the moments in between – that majority of the time when you’re fishing – that lead to calm, contemplative conversations with your mom. Or silent security with your cousin. Or nostalgic pride with your children.
It’s hard to find the opportunities to fish in a landlocked state like Nebraska. Sure, we’ve got lakes and rivers nearby. But we’re not overflowing with fresh or saltwater selections. Omaha’s got a fish market here or there. But even that supply has to travel a way before reaching their icey beds in Omaha.
So, while I love fish and fishing and all things concerning large bodies of water, I always feel a lack of experience when it comes to cooking fish and seafood. And that lack of experience let me build up this idea that I didn’t know what I was doing. And my bouginess led me to say things like ‘it’ll never be like the fish I had in that shack on Highway One.” or “It’ll never be like that east coast lobster I had.”
And yeah. It won’t be.
But I love fish, dammit. And I like eating and preparing it. And there is no near future where I’m fishing for my dinner every morning. So, I decided to work with what I had available to me.
And damn if this trout wasn’t good.
Do I live anywhere near a fresh source of trout?
But, I don’t know.
Something about preparing fish always brings me that sense of calm I get when I’m fishing. That zen state of connection I don’t really get unless I’m using tomatoes from my own backyard or snipping basil from my container in late July.
There’s some connection, deeper than I’ve had the time to unravel just yet, that is soulfully satisfying about a good fish dish.
So, I guess what I’m saying is – yes, buy local. Source locally. Use ingredients that grow around you.
But, also? Have a little trout sometimes. Or, whatever brings you calm.
You deserve it.
Almond Crusted Trout
- 1/3 C almonds
- 2 small shallots
- 2 T fresh parsley
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 C panko or homemade breadcrumbs
- Juice of half a lemon
- 2 T mayo
- 1 1/4 lb Trout Fillets (4 fillets)
- 1/2 lemon, quartered
- Extra parsley for garnish (optional)
- One small glug olive oil
- Small dollop Unsalted butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cast iron or heavy bottomed skillet that is oven safe
- Food processor
- Preheat broiler (around 450) with rack about 2 inches from heat source.
- Process the almond, shallots, parsley, and garlic until similarly sized to panko bread crumbs. Dump into a shallow bowl and mix with breadcrumbs, lemon juice, and salt & pepper to taste.
- Pat your fish fillets dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides.
- Spread layer of mayo on skin-free side of fish
- Press mayo-side down into the breadcrumb mixture.
- Once all fillets are prepped, preheat olive oil and unsalted butter in cast iron or heavy bottomed skillet over medium-high heat.
- Remove the pan from the heat source and gently place your fish fillets, skin side down into the skillet.
- Put the skillet under the broiler and cook until fish is heated through – depending on the fillet and thickness anywhere from 5 to 8 minutes. Fish should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 F or until it is opaque and flakes easily with a fork. You may need to rotate the fish/skillet under the broiler to ensure even cooking. If the coating starts to get too much color, you can (CAREFULLY) move the rack away from the heat source, or turn off the broiler and keep oven door closed to heat through until cooked.