Two friends of mine, Gabi and Gaba recently launched a new Hungarian food blog with recipes and information about fish and seafood. Because I love to work with local fish like trout or char, they asked me to write a guest post with a recipe featuring trout and seasonal ingredients. Although winter is dark and cold, the ingredients of this season aren’t nearly as grey and dreary as they are often told. This dish is a good example for the bright colors of winter. Actually, the colors of the vegetables are complemented by the single grey element on the plate only, the trout.
Some of the most surprising and greatest results emerge from sheer coincidence. It was a similar case for this crispy kale. I planned to use kale with sweet potato marinated Chinese style with soy sauce, garlic, roasted sesame oil, chili and ginger, and baked along with a whole char or trout in the oven. The result was surprising – an effect I originally haven’t intended or planned to achieve. All kale leaves that were standing out from the vegetable bed got wonderful crispy, resulting in a kind of kale chips with Chinese flavor.
If you get bored of potatoes in winter, rutabaga is a great alternative. It makes a puree very similar in consistency, although the rutabaga version is lighter due to its lower starch content. I like to add a small garlic clove to the rutabaga while cooking it over low heat, which adds a nice flavor while not overwhelming the rutabaga’s taste. Rutabaga and especially its cooking liquid always remind me of peanuts. It has the sweetness of the peanuts too, which needs some balance that can be adjusted by a fruit vinegar of your choice.
Oven baked whole trout or char is one of my favorite dinners. It is simple, fast, delicious and infinitely versatile. Usually, the fish can bought already cleaned and it doesn’t have to filleted. It can be stuffed and flavored with almost any kind of herb, spices or citrus fruits. Also the vegetables can be adjusted according to what you have at home and what vegetables are currently in season. For example, during autumn I prefer to use various mushrooms or fennel and apples. In winter, broccoli with white wine and garlic is great, and also this current combination of butternut squash and Brussels sprouts.
Did you like kohlrabi as a child? Me neither. It’s strange that with increasing age some ingredients I used to push aside on my plate, I’m now becoming a fan of. This is the case for example with brussel sprouts or kohlrabi (though with pattypan squash I still can’t get along). One of the secrets for good kohlrabi is to use only young produce and trim all potential woody parts from its bottom. Even raw it tastes great with its sweet flavor. Beyond cooking you can also grill, roast or sauté kohlrabi, although I recommend to cook them first, otherwise the center will remain raw. Precooked kohlrabi sticks are also great for salad, e.g. with this mustard seed and caper-vinaigrette. Both the seeds and the capers have a nice mustard taste, which pairs really well with the slight sweetness of the kohlrabi.
In the main course of my meatless menu for the 2011 ZEITmagazin cooking competition I wanted to present the carrot from different perspectives. The base is formed by a clean tasting creamy carrot puree. After cooking the carrots I put them back on the hot stove to dry them out a bit. Afterwards, while blending to a fine puree I adjusted the consistency if the puree by adding some raw carrot juice. Carrots tend to loose a lot of flavor during cooking – by adding carrot juice later I managed to reincorporate the clean carrot flavor into the puree.