[Photograph: Simon Wheeler]

Whole trout were the first fish I ever placed on a grill, and they're still the first meal that comes to mind when I think of open-fire seafood. Filled with herbs, garlic, and olive oil, grilled trout turn supple and smoky over the flame. In The River Cottage Fish Book, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Nick Fisher offer a slight variation on the standard stuff-the-trout-with-herbs-and-grill-it method of which I am familiar. Instead of picking soft, delicate herbs, they call for overgrown, wild fennel. Then, they not only place the floral, herbaceous plant into the fish cavity (with garlic and bay, of course), but also use the woodiest herbs as a kind of grate for cooking the fish. These woody stems smolder as the fish cooks, adding another layer of smoky flavor to the fish.

Why I picked this recipe: My love for grilled trout is unabashed, but what really sealed the deal was the opportunity to do a little urban foraging in my neighborhood for the wild fennel. (This stuff grows like weeds in Northern California.)

What worked: Whole trout really shines when grilled over high heat; the slowly smoldering fennel took the fish to the next level.

What didn't: Wouldn't change a thing...

Suggested tweaks: ...But if you're one to futz, the fennel could be swapped out for any woody, overgrown herbs.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The River Cottage Fish Book to give away.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer out of Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American and blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.


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