I played the role of Super Shuttle this week at work, carting co-workers to LAX. It's a straight shot from work and conveniently enough it passes right by Bristol Farms. I don't shop there much, but every once in a while it's nice to pick up a few "special" items that you can't find in your typical grocery store. I got a container of morel mushrooms (score) and while perusing the seafood counter noticed that all of their seafood is "Safe Harbor Certified". What the heck does that mean, right? Were dolphins kept safe through safe fishing methods? Maybe these fish were environmentally sustainable. I didn't have to stand there looking confused for too long (another perk of shopping at a "fancy" store) before somebody asked me if I needed help. He explained to me that the levels of mercury had been tested and are considered to be at a "safe" level. With all the recent news about the frightening levels of mercury in fish, there certainly has been a cause for concern. Especially for me, since my diet is heavily pescatarian. This put me at ease a bit and inspired me to pick up some trout fillets for dinner.
Trout Fillets with Asparagus Coulis and Asparagus, Celery & Chive Salad
1 lb of Asparagus, tips sliced thinly on a heavy diagonal, reserve the tougher stems to make the coulis
2 stalks of celery, sliced thinly on a heavy diagonal
1/4 cup of chives, cut into 1" pieces
juice from half a meyer lemon
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 trout fillets, about 1.25 lbs
salt and pepper, to taste
Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Have an ice bath ready. Cook the sliced asparagus tips for 30 seconds and plunge them into the ice bath so they will stop cooking and keep their vibrant green color. Strain and reserve. Have another ice bath ready. Boil the bottom half of the asparagus stalks for about 60 seconds. Plunge them into your second ice bath. Strain and puree in a food processor. Next pass the asparagus puree through your tamis and season with salt and pepper. There's your coulis. In a medium bowl, mix together your blanch asparagus tips, celery and chives. In order to keep everything crisp, wait until the last second to dress.
Heat a pan to hot heat (cast iron if you have it). Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Season fillets with salt and pepper. Put fish in pan skin side (presentation side) down first. This should take a few minutes before the skin is crispy and brown. Turn the heat down to medium high and flip the fillets. A fish spatula is a really great kitchen tool to have for this. Flat and flexible, yet sturdy. It's nice and slotted so that you can drain any excess oil from the fish. After a few more minutes, transfer the fillets to a plate. Tent with foil and repeat this procedure until all fillets are cooked. Drizzle salad with meyer lemon juice, olive oil and salt & pepper. Serve fish on top of a mound of salad and a smear of the coulis. Finish with a sprinkle of fleur de sel.