The Power and the Glory of Eating Local: Grilled Fresh Trout
June 7, 2010 § 5 Comments
I am a simple woman with simple tastes. I don’t need (very much) jewelry. I most definitely don’t need nice clothes. I use zero beauty products and don’t need to be surrounded by beautiful things to be happy. In fact, I am moved by stuff the most when it is free or next to free. As such, I am easy for a man to keep, on one condition – he needs to catch me some wild meat to eat. Bring me an animal carcass, and I will love you forever.
Having grown up without regularly running water, stable indoor heating, and much animal protein, let alone democratic government, it is not at all surprising that I dwell at the bottom of Maslow’s pyramid. Hello, I am Sofya. My interests are safety, food, and shelter. I don’t mind. It’s a good place to be. Let other housewives have an existential crisis. With deer in my freezer and firewood in my yard, I couldn’t imagine more personal fulfillment. Not counting this blog. But it’s all about deer in the freezer and firewood in the yard anyway.
Luckily for me (and for him), my husband is excellent at providing all three – especially food. We raise our own beef and chickens, he reliably shoots me a deer every year (and now I do too), and, most recently, he learned how catch trout, even though he didn’t grow up in a fishing family.
The best part is that he learned how to do it just for me. In his own words, “I think of it as work, and I am happy to do it.” Which is the best of both worlds, really – I get fish and a husband who’s not crazy enough about fishing to use it, in the words of my favorite band, Da Yoopers, “to get away from da wife.” (On an unrelated note, I find it endlessly charming that a group of teens is devoted to the cause enough to make their own video for this magnificent song. In case you don’t realize it, deer hunting and deer paraphernalia is a full-blown local form of totemism, in which I participate with gusto).
Anyhow, trout from the local streams is an amazing thing to eat. Incomparably more flavorful than its storebotten cousin, wild trout is wonderfully oily, which I find irresistibly delicious, so much so that I eat every bit of the skin as well – that’s where all the flavor is, anyway. But, more importantly, caught and consumed the same day, it is also one of the freshest things we eat. Its freshness is so profound, it’s almost a spiritual experience. If you ever read Master and Margarita, you will maybe remember the scene where Azazello is roasting some extremely fresh meat over fireplace using the tip of his sword as a skewer in order to demonstrate to a crooked cafeteria manager, who regularly serves second-rate food to his customers, what fresh really means. I always think of that passage when I have fresh fish like that. I wish Azazello paid a visit to our food industry executives.
My honey caught me these two fishies yesterday morning. I am proud to say I cleaned (as in “gutted”) them myself, because my brother-in-law showed me how to do it last year. It just so happens that cleaning fish is one of my favorite things to do. You can’t thrive at the bottom of Maslow’s pyramid and be squeamish at the same time. Would you like a tutorial on that too? I’ll make you one next time.
These here are brown trout, caught in a stream not far from our house. Brown trout have these lovely, bright-red spots on their skin, which I find really beautiful.
To grill them, you sprinkle the inside with salt and pepper, heat the coals until they are covered with a layer of white ash, oil the grate away from heat, and place the fish on top. A pair of tongs and a spatula will be useful for flipping the fish and removing it from grill.
Cover the grill with a lid, leaving the holes in the top open, and grill the fish on both sides, until it looks like this and flakes nicely (and no longer has pink juices inside).
And because I believe that meat should always come with potatoes (or 99% of the time, anyway), I served it with the delectable Mustard-Roasted Wedge Fries from Gourmet via Smitten Kitchen. Note that her recipe says nothing about turning each fry half-way through, at about 20-minute mark, and I found that step to be necessary. Other than that, her version is perfect.