December 21, 2009 | Fish & Seafood, Local SourcesThis might be a surprise to many readers, even my close friends here in Colorado – Whole Foods has a fish farm alliance with the prison system in Canyon City and they sell fresh trout and tilapia locally as a result. For those of you who are concerned about eating farm raised fish, check out the article I wrote for Edible Front Range in the fall 2009 issue titled Local Fish Farms Make a Splash. I interviewed Whole Foods about this project and point out why we must learn how to safely farm fish because eating only wild is not sustainable. [Note the article isn't yet online but should be as soon as the winter issue comes out.]
The happy coincidence is that when I went to buy fish for dinner the other night, this whole rainbow trout from just an hour’s drive away was staring at me from the Whole Foods fish counter. If you are intimidated by cooking a whole fish, don’t be. Other than that pesky eye staring at you which unnerves some, it couldn’t be simpler.
Start by opening up the fish. A cleaned rainbow trout has no skeleton running down the center, so you really are just working with two lovely filets. Season it liberally with salt and pepper, then tuck in some parsley and a few lemon slices and fold it back over. Wrap the whole fish in foil and bake it for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
When you take it out of the oven, simply cut off the tail and head (there are actually some nice morsels of fish in the collar or neck area of the fish that make great nibbles when you’re preparing the servings). Discard the herbs and lemons, and use a thin fish spatula to gently lift the filet from one side of the skin. (Cooking it in the skin helps keep it moist and flavorful, but it will be slimy and you won’t want to eat it.) If you want, garnish it with a lemon slice and some chopped parsley. Toasted rice with onions and cranberries goes great with this simple fish!