Trout with almonds
Time: 20 minutes
I’ve always been terrified of whole fish, and in fact I’m still slightly nervous of them, but in fact cooking fish that still have fins and tails and heads is actually a doddle. At least, it is if you do it like this.
- 2 whole trout, gutted
- 4 tbsp flaked almonds
- In a large frying pan (big enough to take both fish when bent slightly) dry-fry the almond slivers over medium heat until they start to look uniformly brown. If some of them are starting to burn, stop. Put them to one side.
- Rinse your fish thoroughly and dry with kitchen paper.
- Put a heaped tablespoon of flour on a plate and roll the trout in it until they’re nicely coated (this is a good opportunity to put paid to that cold stare) and shake off any excess.
- Turn the hob up to medium-hot and melt a good chunk of butter (probably about 1 oz/tbsp) in the frying pan. Add the trout.
- Cook them, uncovered, for about 5 minutes on each side. The skin should be nice and crispy.
- Add the almonds to the pan for a couple of seconds to take the chill off them.
- Put each fish on a plate and spoon the almonds on top. That’s it. Bon appétit.
Of course, just because you’ve managed to cook a whole fish sporting heads and tails doesn’t mean you’ll be able to eat it successfully. Here’s a brief guide. Arrange your fish so that it’s lying horizontally in front of you. One usually has the head pointing to one’s left and the tail pointing to one’s right. Make a horizontal incision right along the length of the fish, starting from behind the gills and continuing to the tail, equidistant between the back and the belly. You should then be able to push the flesh off the bones, up and down from the incision. Once you’ve eaten that side, you should find a small spine of tiny loose bones at the top of the fish, along the spine, which you can lift off. When the time comes to eat the other side of the fish, you should insert your knife under the spine at the fish’s tail end. The bone is spade-shaped down there, and relatively easy to insert the knife underneath. Wiggle your knife around until it looks as if the bone is coming away from the flesh. At that point you can grab the tail between your fingers and pull it gently away. It should come away intact, with the head, like a genuine cartoon fish skeleton. If it doesn’t then you’ve cooked the fish too little, or too much, or it’s simply not a very cooperative fish. They tend to get more uncooperative the longer they’ve been dead. That might be a clue.