Thursday, October 10, 2013

Random Cookbook of the Week - A Feast of Ice and Fire

A Feast of Ice and Fire has its roots in the Inn at the Crossroads blog, and both are devoted to bringing the food from George R.R. Martin's books to life. The recipes are a mix of accessible and challenging, and of modern and historical--often the cookbook will offer two recipes for a dish mentioned in the books, one modern and one medieval (or sometimes Roman or Elizabethan). It has a handful of recipes I know I'm not brave enough to try--e.g. Honey-Spiced Locusts--and several I'd love to tackle but haven't yet had the time to attempt--Roman Honeyfingers, Quails Drowned in Butter, Medieval Pork Pie, etc.

But it's also packed with a surprising number of good everyday recipes. Modern Bean and Bacon Soup has become one of my go-to dinner recipes, for example, and I plan on making this week's choice again, too.

Almond Crusted Trout
Serves 2

1/2 c. fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 c. fresh dill, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
1/2 c. chopped or ground almonds
1 tsp salt
1/4 c. bread crumbs (I used panko)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. lemon juice
1 egg
1/2 c. flour
2 small cleaned and gutted trout, or 4 trout fillets (I used fillets)

Heat a grill to low or preheat the oven to 275F. (I used the oven, because it's the rainy season now.)

Mix the herbs, shallots, almonds, salt, and bread crumbs together by hand or in a food processor. (food processor here) Add the garlic, lemon juice, and egg and mix until uniform in texture. Put the flour into a shallow bowl and dredge the fish in the flour. Gently pack the almond mixture inside and around the fish. Grill or bake for about 1 hour, or until the crust is just crispy and the fish is cooked through. Plate and serve.

Since I was using fillets instead of a whole fish, it only took about 20 minutes for the fish to cook through, by which point the crust wasn't anywhere close to crispy, so I turned the broiler on and stuck the fish under it for 5 minutes to give it some crunch.

The crust mixture is a perfect balance of flavors, IMHO. It doesn't have a strong almond flavor, but the fat and richness of the nuts seems to mellow and bind the bright flavors of the lemon and herbs, and they marry beautifully with the fish.

Incidentally, I'm still trying to acquire a taste for fish, and I was advised by other fish-averse folk to avoid trout. But I tried it one night when it was the special at Maple Leaf Grill, and it's my favorite fish. Turns out my problem with fish has at least as much to do with texture as flavor, and trout and salmon, though fishy-tasting, have a nice meaty texture. So give them a tasty sauce or crust so they don't scream FISH! and I'm a happy diner.

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