Salmon and trout make up a huge part of the Pacific Northwest's seafood economy, so it's no surprise that hyper-local restaurants like Ned Ludd in Portland feature fish prominently on their menu. Most of these dishes at Ned Ludd are prepared in their huge wood-fired oven, which means adaptation is the name of the game when cooking this fish at home.
To adapt this recipe for everyday kitchens in Laurie Wolf's Portland, Oregon Chef's Table, they move their wood-fired Stuffed Ruby Trout to a hot oven and then crisp the skin under the broiler. This quick-cook method makes for crackling, blistered skin with moist flesh beneath. (Just be sure to watch the fish closely!)
But this is not mere roast fish; Ned Ludd's trout is taken to a whole 'nother level with a punchy rub of mustard seeds (yellow and brown), fennel seeds, and fresh white pepper, as well as charred scallions and fennel cooked beneath the fish (soaking up all of the marvelous rendered fat and fish juices).
Why I picked this recipe: Roast trout and charred vegetables make for an easy, rustic dinner that I couldn't resist.
What worked: Fennel and mustard seeds work wonders on the tender, rich trout flesh, and the charred fennel and scallions added verdant fragrance to an otherwise earthy dish.
What didn't: I needed to cook the fennel and scallions a bit longer than the fish to turn them tender. Next time, I'd give them a 5 to 10 minute head-start with a drizzle of olive oil so that they'd be ready to eat at the same time as the fish.
Suggested tweaks: This recipe would be easy to tweak depending on available fresh vegetables. I'd stick with hearty roots and alliums for roasting under the fish (slivers of winter squash and onions would be great for fall) and herbs to stuff inside (thyme, for example).
- Yield:serves 4
- Active time: 30 minutes
- Total time:30 minutes
- 4 whole ruby trout, deboned (steelhead or rainbow also acceptable)
- Sea salt, to taste
- 1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground brown mustard seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon ground yellow mustard seeds
- 4 lemons, 2 halved lengthwise and thinly sliced, 2 halved for juicing
- 2 fennel bulbs, halved, cored, and thinly sliced, plus fronds
- 2 bunches green onion, trimmed and halved through the stalk
- 2 radishes, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, stemmed and chopped
- 2 tablespoons tarragon, stemmed and roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons chives, chopped
- Extra-virgin olive oil, to finish
Preheat the oven to 500°F. Place the rack on the lowest level. Open the trout to expose the flesh. Season with salt and spices. Place lemon and fennel fronds evenly over the flesh and fold the fish over. Lightly oil and season the fish on both sides.
Scatter the fennel and scallion over a sheet pan or a large cast iron skillet. Place the trout on the pan. Roast fish for 6 to 8 minutes. Set the broiler on high and move the fish to the highest level. Move the fish under the broiler and roast another 5 to 7 minutes until the skin is crisp and the vegetables are browned.
Place the fish on individual plates. Scatter the vegetables over the fish. Squeeze half a lemon over each fish. Finish with radishes, herbs, extra-virgin olive oil, and sea salt. Serve immediately.