Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fish Flash

Speckled trout are running along North Carolina's coast, but my fishing line sure didn't snag one. What did I catch while out at Cape Lookout on a gorgeous, warm fall day this week - pre-Ida? A lizard fish.
We were at the beach to celebrate the hubby's birthday, and he loves to fish. His brother offered his boat, the wind was mild, the waves nil, so out the Beaufort Inlet we went, skirting Shackleford Banks to the Bight at Lookout. Along the way, we got up close and personal with a pod of bottlenosed dolphin, who enjoyed "surfing" between the hulls of our catamarin.
We also stopped and fished along the way, as well as within the bight. The Birthday Boy got skunked. I got a lizard fish. Other boats were reeling in speckled trout. We figured we needed cut bait, which we did not have.
I love speckled trout for its mild, sweet flavor, and tender meat. So I figured there is more than one way to catch a trout. On the way home to Raleigh, I stopped at a favorite fishmonger, B & J Seafood on HWY 70 in New Bern (252 637-0483), where Ray filleted two gorgeous specks for me. We discussed baking them whole, but decided that because they were quite big, it would be best to fillet and saute them. They filled my largest saute pan, and when I turned them, I goofed. Thus, I decided the above photo of the newly painted Lookout Lighthouse was more appetizing!

No need to feel intimidated at cooking fish. Trout has a very delicate flavor and texture, so its preparation needs to stay simple. My advice is to just leave room in your saute pan to flip the fillets after the first side is browned! You might need to use two pans.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper
1/2 cup flour
4 speckled trout filets

1. Heat equal parts butter and olive oil, enough to coat the bottom of the pan, in a large saute pan over medium high heat.
2. Meanwhile, lay both sides of fillets in flour, then shake off excess. You just want a dusting.
3. When butter/oil is hot and sizzling, lay fillets with skin side up in pan. Saute until golden brown. Turn. Season with salt and pepper. Squeeze lemon juice over each fillet.
4. Continue to cook with the skin side down until fillet is cooked through, meaning no pink color, and flaky. But be careful not to over cook. Trout is very tender.
5. Carefully lift each fillet onto individual plates, and serve with slices of lemon.


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