Chicken-Fried Trout with Green Tartar Sauce and Asian Slaw

Recipe by: Rick Moonen

Author and chef/owner of Rick Moonen’s RM Seafood and Rx Boiler Room in Las Vegas, Nevada.

(Serves 4)
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup minced red onion
1/4 cup chopped scallions
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon chile paste (sambal oelek)
4 trout fillets (7 ounces each)
Coarse salt
Freshly ground white pepper
All-purpose flour for dredging
Corn or peanut oil for frying

Green tartar sauce (recipe below)
Asian slaw (recipe below)

Green Tartar Sauce
1/4 chopped cornichons
1 tablespoon chopped capers
1 medium shallot, coarsely chopped
2 cups mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 heaping tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 heaping tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 heaping tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

Asian Slaw
1 pound cabbage, cored and shredded
1 cup grated carrots (use the large holes of a box grater or the shredding disc of a food processor)
1/2 cup Asian vinaigrette (recipe below)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
Coarse salt

Asian Vinaigrette
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon chopped hot pepper

Recipe from Fish Without a Doubt: The Cook’s Essential Companion, by Rick Moonen and Roy Finamore. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

Combine the buttermilk, onion, scallions, dill, garlic, zest and chile paste in a baking dish. Whisk or stir well.
Lay the fillets in the marinade, making sure you’ve got them completely coated. Cover with plastic and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours.
When you’re ready for dinner, remove the fish from the marinade and season it with salt and pepper. Coat the fillets well with flour.
Heat 1/4 inch of oil in a heavy skillet (this is a good time to pull out your cast-iron pan) until very hot but not smoking. Fry the fish in batches for about 1 1/2 minutes on the first side, then turn and fry for another 45 seconds. The crust should be golden.

Green Tartar Sauce
This sauce is best made ahead. Letting it sit in the refrigerator for about 24 hours gives the flavors time to develop.
Drop the cornichons, capers and shallot into a food processor. Process for a few seconds just to combine. Add the mayonnaise, mustard, herbs, lemon juice and white pepper and process for about 8 seconds to blend well. Scrape down the sides. With the motor running, add the oil in a slow, steady stream.
Scrape the tartar sauce out into an airtight container, cover and refrigerate for 24 hours before using.

Asian Slaw
The flavors here are bright and clean, a nice contrast to fried fish. So even if you have a mayonnaisey coleslaw in your repertoire, try this one.
Toss the cabbage and carrots with the vinaigrette and mint. Season with salt, toss and taste. Adjust the salt if necessary. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

Asian Vinaigrette
This tangy dressing works well with all sorts of salads. It doesn’t emulsify the way a French-style vinaigrette will; just give it a shake before you use it.
Combine all the ingredients in a jar and give them a good shake. Use as needed in a salad, and keep the leftovers in the refrigerator. This lasts forever.
Vietnamese fish sauce (nuoc nam) can be found in most Asian markets and in many specialty food stores and grocery stores. Look for the Golden Boy brand. Thai chile peppers are what I prefer, but any hot pepper will work. Whatever you use, though, don’t seed it.

Trout, Rainbow, Farmed, Domestic a “Best Choice”
Buy U.S. farmed rainbow trout or lake trout from Lake Superior’s Minnesota waters. Then look for a “Good Alternative,” but know that these sources have environmental issues. Say “No, thanks” to lake trout caught in Lake Superior’s Wisconsin waters.

Recipe courtesy of Seafood Watch ® a registered service mark of the Monterrey Bay Aquarium Foundation

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