One Wednesday as we were shopping the Union Square Green Market we were inspired by trout. Max Creek Hatchery is there on Wednesdays and at the moment he has incredibly fresh, beautiful rainbow trout. Trout is not a fish we normally pick up, that particular day we were simply inspired. Max Creek Hatchery is not the cheapest trout on the block, as I recall the fish set us back about $10.95 per pound, although the fish were so fat and meaty that we decided to find out if they were worth the price. The short answer to that question is yes, they were definitely money well spent. The long answer, in no way did they set us back, in fact they raised the bar on what trout may be.
Alex and I have sort of a routine for prep. It's a actually a bit of a free for all, the rule with ingredients is first come, first served. So if one of us particularly covets a bunch of lovage or that container of strawberries, we had better be on the ball in the kitchen. Occasionally one of us will buy something for a specific purpose and there is a clear hand's off signal to the other person. Even that only lasts for a day or two. If the ingredient has not been utilized within 48 hours, all bets are off and the other person can request it for immediate use. We usually discuss ideas before running off to prep in our separate areas so that we have a general idea of what direction we're going in, occasionally even with these conversations things can go awry.
The first time I reached for the trout at home I was appalled to discover that he had glued (actually bonded) the fillets together to form a solid plank of fish. A heated discussion ensued because we had talked about using the trout for a tasting menu. I was under the impression that the plan was to showcase it's natural beauty. To me that meant simply cleaning the fish and serving pieces of the individual fillets. As it turned out, Alex's vision was different from mine. His idea was to create a thick plank of fish, which could then be cooked and sliced to show off it's meaty texture and juicy flesh.
By the time we realized that we were coming at it from different directions the fish had already been cleaned and glued together using transglutaminase. So that night we did it his way. We cooked the trout sous vide at 52.5 degrees Celsius for twenty minutes and let the fish rest for an additional five minutes before slicing. We paired it with a mosaic of fava beans and Cabot cloth bound cheddar. I have to say that it was delicious. I don't think any of our diners even noticed that the trout had been served differently. They only registered that it was succulent and flavorful and a pleasure to consume. Which is of course is exactly as it should be.