Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tomato Sauce Drizzle over Lightly Fried Trout (serves 2-3)


My mother has made this tomato sauce drizzle over fish dish many times (known as cá sốt cà chua in Vietnamese).  My family fished quite often when my brothers and I were growing up.  In Vietnam Dân (one of my brothers) and I would fish from our land and bring anything we caught back to my mother to cook.  In Maine my family would fish together whenever possible. After returning from a successful fishing outing sometimes my mother would make this dish using the freshly caught fish and fresh home-grown tomatoes (if it is summertime).  We would all sit down and eat this dish with piping hot rice.  In the past I had time to fish for trout with some success. Unfortunately this year I am just too busy with my job to do any fishing except for the occasional catch in my local market fishing department.  Depending on your grocery, some do carry exceptionally fresh fish.  I like to ask my fish monger where the fish came from and how long ago they arrived.  I prefer to buy whole fish where I can easily judge how fresh they are by observing the eyes and gills.  Sometimes I like to take a closer look at the fish and smell it.  Most good business people are happy to oblige this request.  After having said that however, I think the best tasting fish are the ones that my family, friends or I have caught.

Trout is a fresh water fish and there is a variety of species.  Trout meat is mild in smell and taste.  It is quick to cook and can be used in many types of fish dishes. They are also quite easy to clean. The scales take little effort to remove.  If you are going to clean fish for the first time this is a fish to start with. I use a knife to scale my fish.  Growing up everyone I know does it this way including the fish mongers in Vietnam.  There are fancy scaling gadgets you can purchase but they are not necessary.  I use a sharp knife to make a horizontal incision in the belly to remove the abdominal contents.   If there are eggs then I remove everything except for the eggs.  If I have kitchen shears then I used it to cut off the fins. However, you can also use a knife to remove them. 

beautiful vine ripened tomatoes from Maine

diced tomatoes, chopped scallions,
chopped garlic, chopped onion

Ingredients:

2 large whole trout, lightly pan-fried (see Red Snapper with Tomato Shiitake Mushrooms for a similar dish)
2-3 Tbsps olive (or any oil you prefer or have)
1/2 onion or shallots (about 1/4 C), diced and roughly chopped
4 scallions, chopped (about 1/2 C), reserve a little for garnish later
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1-2 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
4 tomatoes, de-seeded, diced
1/4 C water
2 Tbsps oyster sauce
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chicken powder

cleaned and prepared trout
ready for frying
Lightly Fried Trout

Method:

1) Clean the trout well.  Scale the entire fish, remove the fins with either shears or knife, remove the stomach contents but set aside any egg casings, rub the fish with salt or vinegar and wash everything off well, pat the fish dry with a clean towel, score (or cut) about four 1/4-inch deep diagonally into the sides of the fish, sprinkle salt/black pepper inside the belly and both sides of each fish.
2) Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil in a large non-stick pan over medium high heat.
3) Once the pan is hot add the 2 fish, use a splatter guard to cover the pan.  Let it cook about 4 minutes. Adjust the heat as needed.
4) Gently flip the fish over to the other side, add more oil if needed and cook another 4 minutes or until the fish is cooked.  Set aside.

*You can also use fish fillets for this recipe but I prefer to cook whole fish if it's available.


Tomato Sauce

Method:

1) Add about 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium pan over medium high heat.
2) Once the pan is hot, add onion, scallions, ginger, and garlic.  Saute about 2 minutes.
3) Add tomato and water, saute about 5 minutes.
4) Add oyster sauce, salt, and chicken powder.  Saute about 1.
5) Pour the contents over the fried trout, garnish with extra scallion bits if interested and serve.

*It is best not to cook this sauce too long in order to keep the tomato pieces recognizable and somewhat whole.  I find it to be more tasty this way.  This is a basic sauce.  You can just make this sauce using salt or fish sauce instead of oyster sauce and/or chicken powder.  Of course adjust the salty ingredients according to your taste and health.  

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