On my recent trip to New Orleans, I had the pleasure of tasting some incredible food, from classic po' boys to quite elegant, Bayou-inspired cuisine. My first night there a whole gaggle of food journalists gathered at Chef John Besh's restaurant, Lüke, a brasserie-style place with all the brasserie trimmings and a menu that drops serious hints of Louisiana cooking.
It seemed all the locals were ordering Chef Besh's Speckled Trout Amandine, so I hopped on the bandwagon. This is a great example of a really simple dish that's easy to prepare but has such a unique flavor that it tastes like more effort went into it. The keys are fresh fish and a very hot skillet. Oh, and comfort with large amounts of butter. The recipe is below the jump.
Unless you live in Louisiana, you probably don't have access to Lake Pontchartrain Trout. No worry. Any Lake Trout or Brook Trout will do. Rainbow Trout, the most commonly found trout in US markets, is a different genus, but it'll work. Rainbow Trout gets a medium score on the Blue Ocean Institute's Guide to Ocean-Friendly Seafood and a higher score on the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program. The Environmental Defense Fund's Seafood Selector gives farmed Rainbow Trout an "eco-best" score.
Char is in the same family as Trout and can be substituted. Both are soft in texture with a delicate flake. Beyond Char, any fresh-water white fish can be prepared in this way.
Louisiana Speckled Trout Amandine
From Lüke Restaurant, New Orleans (John Besh, Chef/Owner)
6 each 8-10oz (each) fillets Lake Pontchartrain trout
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoon Creole seasoning*
2 cups flour
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup blanched and sliced almonds
juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
Preheat oven to 350° F.
To a cast iron or heavy bottomed pan over medium heat, add 1/2 inch olive oil.
Season trout fillets with salt, pepper, and Creole seasoning. Dredge trout in flour and shake off excess. Then place trout in buttermilk, and again in flour; shake off excess. Place fish in pan with hot oil and cook on both sides until completely brown, about 5-7 minutes per side. If trout are thick and not completely cooked throughout, finish them in preheated oven, cooking for a few minutes.
To another sauté pan over medium-high heat, add butter. When butter has completely melted and begins to brown slightly on the sides, add almonds, lemon juice, and parsley. Continue to move butter around in pan until almonds have browned, about 3-4 minutes. Season sauce with salt and remove from heat.
Place each trout fillet on a plate and spoon amandine sauce liberally over top.