The food I get most emotional about is probably seafood. That's saying a lot because I get emotional about most foods. Anyone who has walked around Chinatown with me can attest to that fact that I must stop and stare at the products at every seafood stall there. And there are quite a few...
One of my favorite seafood dishes is tangy, nutty trout amandine. This simple dish of pan fried fish fillets in a lemony brown butter sauce with sliced almonds is a Creole take on the classic French sole meuniere. In New Orleans, it was so easy to find trout amandine at restaurants that I used to leave it up to the professionals to make it. Now I have to recreate such things in my own kitchen. Trout amandine doesn't even use real trout- its really Gulf saltwater speckled trout, which is basically just like any other throw away white, flaky fish. Fortunately these fish are usually cheap, sustainable, low in mercury, and delicious if you know how to prepare them correctly. Also, it can be made with ingredients that many home cooks usually have on hand anyways, except the fresh fish. I made it using ocean perch, but you could use croaker, pollock, etc. Croaker Amandine just doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?
Trout Amandine (recipe from My New Orleans by John Besh)
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon "Basic Creole Spices" (I used a pinch of cayenne pepper, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt)
Six 5-7-ounce skinless fish fillets
Freshly ground black pepper
8 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sliced almonds
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1. Put the milk into a wide dish. Put the flour and Creole Spices into another wide dish and stir to combine. Season the fish fillets with salt and pepper, dip them into the milk, and dredge in the seasoned flour.
2. Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the fillets and cook on each side until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the fish to a serving platter.
3. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons butter to the same skillet over medium-high heat. Swirl the skillet over the heat so that the butter melts evenly and cook until the butter turns brownish, 5-7 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the almonds, and cook, stirring gently, until the nuts are toasty brown, about 3 minutes. Add the lemon juice, parsley, and a dash of salt.
4. Spoon the browned butter and almonds over the fish and serve.