Category Archives: fish

Catch of the Day: Trout in Ham Recipe


I don’t know what pushed us to go ice fishing few week-ends ago, but it wasn’t a common sense. But it made a good story, so I guess it was worth it anyways. Although very cold, the morning was bright and shiny and promised all kind of fun nature adventures. Doggy, the house astrologer was giving us her blessings…
When we arrived at Phillipsburg, it was minus thirty in Celsius, windy (which translates into minus forty five with the wind chill factor) and unbelievably humid because the day before was much warmer. The man on duty at Activités Plein Air with lobster-red face and neck briefly explained the rules of serious ice fishing and handed us a can of worms (greeting bonus for the ice fishing newcomers). ‘Go check your place and tell me when you’re ready,’ he said chewing cigarette roach and waving to the few cabins (cabane à pêche) available, so we could take a pic before parting with Canadian $75.00. ‘Is it biting well?’ – we inquired. ‘Keeps us pas mal busy, he replied. Perhaps he was talking about his liver, I don’t know. He had a breath of the United Distillery although it was just little past the afternoon. I realized we didn’t bring any alcohol, just a six-pack of Blanche de Chambly, which sounded more like a joke in this weather condition. What were we thinking? This kind of adventure calls for some hard alcohol, like the 120-proof Jamaican rum that can curl your nose hair just by looking at it. I also realized I should have put three pairs of pants instead of two, brought snow goggles, covered the rest of my face with Vaseline and wrapped the rest of my body in extra wool and feathers…
It was around half-mile to get to the nearest free cabin walking over the frozen lake. By the time we did with our back packs and fishing gear, I couldn’t take pictures anymore because my fingers went numb. So felt my camera – the buttons froze and were not working. The shack was empty, dark and cold: we had to go back to buy and bring some fire wood to start warming it up. The neighbor within few meters flung his cabin door open to take a loud steamy piss disregarding us as if we were some kind of uninvolved bystanders stoned as much as him by that point of the day. He then gulped some moonshine from a plastic water bottle and vanished back into his cabin. Although many shacks have been already rented, we’ve seen no fish caught around and heard no screams of excitement. Everything was dead silent, steamy cold and wild.
In less than 15 minutes I felt like I’ve been ice fishing for a century. I might even have taken this image a hundred years ago in Gilford, Ontario, except I absolutely wouldn’t want to be that person…
The landscape reminded me of ‘The Red Tent’ vintage movie my parents used to make me watch as a toddler for like thousand times because they liked it and thought it was a ‘masterpiece tragedy’. Sean Connery played Roald Amundsen, Claudia Cardinale was a hot nurse Valeria. Most of the time (script) all was lost; the characters would suffer from the situation, relationships and excruciating cold. Everyone’s face was covered with icicles. Everything went epic bad to the score of eternal Enio Morricone…
‘I think we have just screwed our day. The fish is not biting. Most of my blood circulation has shut down… And our phone is dead…. What other signs do we need to stop before it’s too late? It feels to me like this kind of adventure can only give pneumonia or a prostate whatever… What if we freeze to death, or worse, drift into the ocean on break-away sea ice floes like those 220 Latvian anglers? I should have SKYPEd with my Mom this morning.’
‘Just for today, I wish I had a giant beard like Hans Langseth to keep me warm. I could wrap it around my neck and shoulders and protect myself better from the Arctic cold and hard-blowing flurries’, the idea crossed my mind while we soldiered back to the station at the sunset empty-handed. The landscape was breathtaking though…
‘I thought the catch would happen fast and easy like that Finnish angler promised in his blog. ‘Next time may be you should check the real Canadian website for more information on local conditions,’ suggested honey-bunny. Oh well. That was our tribute to cold.We did catch one fish – a small pregnant perch, which we released:
I enlarged it on purpose (like they do with many things) to compare with the Finnish angler (bottom right image is a Finnish pike):
I was happy to be back to Montreal safe and sound. We passed by Costco and I bought a pack of freshly caught trout with one single wish in my head: ‘Summer, come back to me!’.
The wish manifested later in the form of Trucha Con Jamón dish – my favorite Spanish way (originating from Navarra region) to cook trout wrapped in cured ham. Crisp ham and fish skin, juicy tender fish fillet inside, contrasting exotic flavors. It guarantees to bring the sunshine back to your plate rain or shine! Next time in February, Costco will be as far as I can go for my winter catch of the day adventure, I swear.
Naturally, this recipe can be done with other wrap-able fresh fish, or even better, fish fillet. Pickerel, cod, haddock, rockfish or bass fillets would be my best bets; lean salmon would be OK  (as long as the piece is not too greasy).
Equally, some versions of Trucha Con Jamón are done with the ham going inside the cavity of the fish instead of the outside. The most known is the one called Truca a la Riohana. Still heavenly tasty!
Quick note: TOTALLY OPTIONAL – often I de-bone the fish (which is easy in case of the fresh trout) for the comfort of consumption, but it’s really not necessary if you’re OK with fish bones (although it does give you a hint that you can do the same with any pair of fish fillets – sounds to me like a great idea for a restaurant menu):
Another quick note/disclaimer: although it makes quite a stretch from the classic recipe, thinly sliced fresh pork belly makes a great riff on this dish for both, to stuff or to wrap it in:
Some words on side courses:
– Excellent with simple green peas and some other steamed or sautéed veggies extra, like zucchini, broccoli, sprouts, etc.;
– Out of this world with the side course of warm sautéed leeks and carrots  and/or olive salad; 
– Festive with Waldorf;
– Light and easy with simple green watercress salad;
– Groovie with classic potato salad,
and many more…
Enjoy!
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TROUT WRAPPED IN CURED HAM (Trucha Con Jamón)
Yields: 1 to 2 portions depending on the trout size or your appetite. Multiply the ingredients accordingly.
Ingredients:
1 small to medium size fresh trout, gutted and cleaned (deboned if necessary)
Sea salt and pepper to taste
1 wedge of lemon to sprinkle (optional)
1 slice of bacon/lard, cut in cubes (optional)
1 small red bell pepper, diced (optional)
2-3 pieces of cured ham (Serrano, Proscuitto, etc.) thinly sliced
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
Ingredients:
Season the trout with salt and pepper, sprinkle with lemon inside out and set aside.
Heat the skillet to medium high, add bacon and fry it for 2-3 minutes. Add red bell pepper to the skillet and continue frying for another 2-3 minutes. Transfer to the plate and let cool. Keep the liquid bacon fat leftover in the skillet for the next step.
Pat-dry trout with paper towels and stuff the cavity with bacon-red pepper mix.  Wrap the trout with cured ham making sure the cavity with the stuffing is well closed.
Re-heat the same skillet to medium high. Add olive oil and warm it through. Place the trout wrapped in ham carefully into the skillet. Cook on each side for 5-7 minutes, lowering the heat a bit if necessary to make sure the fish is cooked through. Enjoy with some light vegetable side dish!
TROUT STUFFED WITH HAM (Trucha a la Riohana)
Yields: 1 to 2 portions depending on the trout size or your appetite. Multiply the ingredients accordingly.
Ingredients:
1 small to medium size fresh trout, gutted and cleaned (deboned if wish be)
Sea salt and pepper to taste
2-3 pieces of cured ham (Serrano, Proscuitto, etc.) thinly sliced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Instructions:
Season the trout with salt and pepper. Pat dry the trout with paper towel. Stuff the cavity with ham.  Heat the same skillet to medium high. Add olive oil and warm it through. Place the trout carefully into the skillet. Cook on each side for 5+ minutes, lowering the heat a bit if necessary to make sure the fish is cooked through. Enjoy with some light vegetable side dish!

Top Twenty Hottest Food Trends 2015

For the week-end update and the January’s wrap up, I’ve collected some interesting data about the Food Trends for 2015. From the Food Channel to Better Homes & Gardens to Yahoo Food and many other sources, the experts and chefs agree on the following common food trends for 2015: 

ALL THAT VEG: Veggies are still going strong in 2015 to the greatest salumi-lovers chargin. The new crossbred vegetables like broccolette and kalette will enter the groceries and our kitchens. New cruciferous species are introduced by chefs (i.e. spigarello is the new kale according to Mario Batali). The underdogs like cauliflower and radishes re-emerge and will have a better standing throughout the year. 
I think it’s time to post my Cauliflower Lobster Dumplings Soup and/or Walnut Pesto Roasted Cauliflower soon. Stay tuned.
DIY FOOD BARS: From hippie lemon coconut cookies to healthy diy bites, raw food bars are becoming the new lunchables and your best traffic companion. Try this bites for some healthy breaks.
DUCK IS THE NEW CHICKEN: The duck’s popularity continues to grow and its healthier sustainable protein and fat are more and more recognized (along with duck eggs that cost the same as chicken eggs at Asian supermarkets). Roast it, use it in soups and stir fries, make some roasted duck skin salads (2014 restaurant hip). If not already, try this remarkable and easy duck roast to start falling in love with it. 
Follow with the duck skin salad for more adventure.
VEGETARIAN RAMEN: From NYC to Montreal and Toronto; from East coast to West coast, North to South, Ramen is still one of the most wanted foods, except this year vegetarian versions are more and more in demand. Pack it with all kind of Asian greens and herbs, miso/sriracha/and bunch of other flavors, add some sea weed and poached egg and you are good to go. Try to avoid the instant noodles unless you want to die a little each time you let 50% saturated fat and 2-days dose of sodium fuzz your digestive tract.
RABBIT IS THE NEW IT MEAT:Looks like my New Year’s Eve post on Cuban Rabbit Fricasse was right on time: rabbit is the next lean-clean light meat that can absorb all kind of flavors and make you feel light and good. 
Just wait until you try my rabbit lasagna!
SMALLER FISH:The time of the Old Man and the Sea has passed and the small fish is a new big fish logo now with all points sustainable. Try some Japanese smelts tempura or grilled sardines next and you won’t miss any big fish anymore.  
OYSTERS IN SEASON: Raw or baked, this highly sustainable and still very affordable bivalve is taking restaurant and home kitchens by the storm in 2015. Why not? The year of the Goat is all about elegance and class: let’s fancy this trend with a dash of sustainable kelp caviar, lime granita and a bit of mignonette sauce on a side.  
SEAWEED SAGA: 2015 is also about sophisticated cooking so many Japanese condiments have a strong presence including seaweed (fresh, dry or reconstituted) being added to stocks, salads and mains for added taste and umami. Great iodine booster besides other things, a pack of dried sea weed for the cup of morning miso or kombu for some hearty stocks make the most welcome additions to your pantry.
KEEP FORAGING:from edible weeds and berries to wild flowers to mushrooms and nuts foraging expands like never before to bring a touch of wilderness and rare flavors to the dishes and make our lives healthier and fancier. Check the recipes for Juniper Ham in Pastry; Cream of Foraged Greens; Almond Gazpacho with Violets; Fiddlehead Ferns Omlet and Pasta.
BREAD REVOLUTION: While the gluten free trend is still strong, there is a growing revolution in the area of artisanal breads (with multi and/or sprouted grain), which according to the world’s bread experts is going to expand over the next few years. Check this easy super-savory Cypriot-style bread recipe for the first hand exposure when making your own first artisanal bread.
FERMENTED & SOUR FOODS: Healthy gut has become the American priority in the war against the obesity. Fermented foods – yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut and miso are trendier than ever. Use this fool proof kimchi recipe to join the movement. 
SPECIALTY PASTAS: Gluten free movement resulted in some outstanding specialty pastas (brown rice, kamut, buckwheat, spelt, etc.) that are now available at the restaurants and in stores. Make your next pasta meal special with this Pasta con le Sarde recipe and spaghetti of your choice.
SPICES & SMOKE ON A RISE: Learning how to season food in more than just salt and pepper has never been more exciting. From Cajun Spice and New Orleans food chronicles in the Chef movie, to Middle Eastern Za’atar mix the spice empire is raising its bar high this year. Check these simple Cajun and Zaatar spice mix DIYs, or try the some juniper berries in your next recipe. Add some smoke whenever you can and/or use more of the smoked paprika and chili seasoning.
FANCY COOKIES: The wheat revolution brought more focus on home-made cookies. From chocolate chips to Eccles cakes to gluten free hazelnut chocolate bites or candied ginger scones packed with dried fruits (coming soon) – gran style cookies with some modern health twist are very much in. FYI, cannabis is becoming a popular baking ingredient further to more and more of its legalization in many places.
BITTER IS A NEW BOLD: Wake up your bile and liver!  The watercress, ginseng, green collards, coffee, dark chocolate rubs and other acrid, astringent taste sensation evoking foods are in and ready to help your liver recovery.  Try the watercress salad for a difference.
SIPPING BROTH: Healthy broth is predicted to take over by the end of 2015. Anything that can increase the body’s alcalinity is a hot trend.  I’m already making my own miso soups for breakfast, but I’ve also experimented with a bunch of vegetarian broths that can boost your energy in the morning. Like this rainbow broth (red color is given by beets) that is great to kick start the day on a positive note with something less boring than smoothie. Stay tuned. And hey, mark my words: the Ginseng Chicken Soup will be a giant hit by the end of the year or earlier.
HOME BREWING & CANDYING: The DIY alchemy has never been stronger, from home-made apple cider to specialty vinegar to DIY rose water, to making your own primitive fermented drink, beer, wine or cider – I’m in, and ready to finally go and buy that special ‘mother’ to start brewing the real deal. Candied orange, lemon and ginger are also now very hot ingredients.
WINE CASUALIZED: Here is a bit of good news for everyone: from liquor stores to big gulps to future AA people and the rest of us.  A bit of wine each day is better than getting wasted during the week-end and that’s the whole thing about the great red cell cardio benefits.  
Make it casual. Make it French. Make it quality over quantity. Start using it in cooking sparingly: from stew, to soup to the dessert jelly, a splash of wine works wonders in cooking.  
ETHNIC BECOMES GLOBAL: The word ethnic is being removed from the chef’s vocabulary. Food and trends have turned global and we are all contributing to it. There will be no more polemic as to the origin of borscht.
RESTAURANTS – MY KITCHEN, MY RULES: The restaurants start discouraging the food photography and cell phones in general focusing on their food rather than opinion, which is the great news to those who want to be inspired by the food quality and cooking innovation rather than formality of the rating in social media. Example: this guy gave me the stink eye (aka dirty look) after I was taking the picture and I think he was absolutely right: it is disturbing.
REPLICATING RESTAURANTS: This is one of my favorite things and I’ve already been doing it for years. What’s the point of going someplace they serve what you can make at home in minutes (and without an extra pound of re-fried butter in it)? However, if it’s something extraordinary like this or that, I’m always in, and impressed and would like to go back even if I can deconstruct it and make it at home. I’m a big miss in general for the Michelin type of restos simply because I don’t like to feel like the honorable cadavre staring at some kind of tiny food in jello or smoke displayed (yes, I’m talking about micro cuisine) on a perfectly clean plate and reminding of the sad future of food and humanity. But some hearty hole in the wall with down to earth alternative burger packed with fresh ingredients and flavors: YES, PLEASE.

Pipin’ Coconut-n-Root Vegetable Curry Recipe


Baby, it’s cold out there! The Alaskan storm hiccup has just reached Eastern Canada with the brrr temperatures, even the first snow. Under these circumstances I’m sure I’m not the only one to resort to comfort eating. This recipe has been on my bucket list for a while and I wanted to share it eventually for all the right reasons. It’s vegetarian, comparatively light, highly dietetic and comforting, and can be easily complemented with multiple omnivore, vegan or pescatarian choices. I opted for the haddock fish to go with it, but you can choose tofu, chicken or any fondue-sliced meat, all of which can be sautéed in a few minutes with the spices of your choice.

A trip to the local farmers’ market…

A bunch of the root veggies and other bounty brought home…
A quick mental scan of what to do with them on a day like today…
IT’S GOTTA BE CURRY! From my personal experience, nothing can pick you up better than a savory-spicy curry during times of chilling humidity and/or a flu season. Just few spoons of it and you’re back to keep calm and carry on…
The versatility of this dish is incredible. Depending on the curry spices you use, it can take an Asian, Indian or Caribbean direction. I used Jamaican curry spice mix for this post, along with a dash of Scotch Bonnet pepper sauce to give it an obviously Jamaican flair . 
You can also easily incorporate any other fall veggies into it: from pumpkin to squash, broccoli, cauliflower or collard greens. Finally, you can swap canned chick peas with canned lentils, or beans if wish be.
Have any leftovers of this curry from Friday supper? Turn them into a fast and delicious take on a British Kedgeree for your week-end brunch by adding some cooked rice, boiled eggs and chopped greens. If you happen to have some smoked haddock in your fridge, team it up: it will make the dish outstanding (otherwise, canned tuna or salmon would be OK).
We all (me in particular – duh) need some kind of an immune booster at this time of the year. The combination of this curry’s ingredients provides it in abundance: from a support to digestion, to anti-inflammatory help, to giving more energy to the brain, to improving cholesterol ratios, to metabolic push and so on. And the coconut milk in this recipe is not just a healthy alternative to milk. It does magic marrying the spices and ingredients, softening the heat of the curry and adding delicate sweetness along with carrots and sweet potatoes.  
Serve the curry piping hot with or without the meat protein addition, garnished with fresh cilantro or parsley and lime wedges on a side. Enjoy!
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COCONUT & ROOT VEGETABLE CURRY
Yields: 4 portions
Ingredients:
For Curry:
1 big sweet potato, cut in small cubes
1 big potato, cut in small cubes
1 big carrot, cut in small cubes
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp crushed chili flakes
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp grated ginger
2 tbsp curry powder
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 can 19 oz chickpeas, drained
1 can 14 oz coconut milk
1 jalapeno pepper seeded and minced (or 1 tbsp Scotch Bonnet pepper sauce)
1 tsp fresh or dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1 small bunch of cilantro for garnish
2-3 scallions for garnish
1-2 limes, cut in wedges
Additions:
4 fillet of white, not oily fish (haddock, cod, tilapia, etc.), sautéed in 1 tsp oil and seasoned
OR
4 chicken breasts escalopes, sautéed in 1 tsp oil and seasoned
Instructions:
Cover the potatoes and carrots with water in a small saucepan. Bring to boil and simmer for 3 minutes.  Drain and set aside.
In the meantime, add three tablespoons of oil to the Dutch oven or a big saucepan and bring to medium high.  Add chili flakes, onion, garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute. Add the curry powder.  Add the red pepper and mix.
Add potatoes and carrots and mix. Add chickpeas and mix. Add coconut milk and bring to boil. Add jalapeno and thyme. Bring to boil and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

Garnish with cilantro and minced scallions. Serve hot in bowls with lime wedges on a side, topped with fish or chicken additions.

For Kedgeree:
Ingredients:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
2 cups coconut and vegetable curry leftovers
1/3 cup of water
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 cups cooked rice of your choice, cold
1 cup smoked haddock (or canned tuna, or salmon), minced
2 boiled eggs, chopped
1 tsp cumin, ground
1 tsp coriander, ground
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lime, zested and juiced
2 tsp fresh cilantro or parsley, minced
Instructions:
Heat the big skillet or wok to medium-high and add olive oil and butter. Add coconut vegetable curry and mix. Add water and fish sauce. Bring the heat to high, add rice and keep mixing vigorously for 1 minute. Add fish, eggs, cilantro and spices. Keep mixing for one minute. Add lime zest, drizzle with lime juice and mix. Remove for the heat and serve hot garnished with cilantro or parsley. Serve hot.

My Take on Pissaladière for Sweet November

This is my recent take on the great French classic, Pissaladière.Piss – what?’ Correction: ‘pissala’ (deriving from either Ligurian piscialandreaor Occitan pissaladiera) was a paste made of the salted baby anchovies used in the recipe at the time of its inception when a big part of Southern France was in Italian possession. This explains why it is pizza rather than bread. Despite the fact that you will have a fisherman breath while eating it, pissaladière is an incredibly tasty and addictive meal or snack. Originating from the Nice (yep, from no less than The Côte d’Azur) and relatively unknown few decades ago, pissaladière is slowly but steadily becoming more and more popular all over the world as a unique and comforting kind of pizza, which by its savory characteristics can only come close to the classic French onion soup (although the anchovies and black olives addition in this pizza make a strong salty-savoury punch to otherwise gently sweet caramelized onion in this dish).

Pissaladière is an easy crowd pleaser (specifically for those who like caramelized onions, cheese and olives). Not to mention it’s a very low budget fare, so if your fridge is empty, or you feel destitute for this or that reason, this easy to pull off pizza can comfort you within less than 30 minutes. It is also a great idea for a vegetarian cocktail or potluck party.

I used the fresh goat feta cheese we procured at La Chevriere de Monnoir goat farm because it was so good (gently sweet and moderately salty), it really had to be showcased. I also made two kinds of this pizza: one with anchovies on a side (making it a pure caramelized onion and goat cheese tart) and the one with anchovies in (making it a true pissaladière style). 

It’s November already, the gloomiest month of the year, with its heavy leaden sky, moonless nights, violent gusts of wind and down-pouring torrents of cold rain – all pushing the cheerful October leaves into desolation and death, leaving the trees and hedges sad and homeless.  However, it’s exactly the November sky that makes this month so present, with its infinite vastness and its temper. It becomes a giant canvas that imprints the weather’s mood swings striking the eyes so vividly:

From dull and gray…

To layer cake like colors, changing its ‘high austerity to delight’…

Back to heavy leaden and bright with occasional windows of the light, spanning their beams across the naked fields as if trying to vacuum the last drop of life from the nature…

To peaceful and pastoral again, like in this image taken at the goat farm…

November sky has always been an inspiration to many of great artists depicting it in their masterpieces (although a friend of mine has a theory it was simply because there were no more bugs and mosquitoes to disturb them from their work). Well, I incline to believe it’s inspirational…

Flock of Sheep at Pasture by Aelbert Cuyp, 1655
November in general is inspirational in many ways, including to our appetite, which grows almost proportional to the dropping temperatures, leaving us craving for this or that comfort food. Pissaladière(or French pizza if you want) is one of those fall comfort foods for me.  I always make it in November and it makes my November sweet and cozy. Not surprisingly, after I bought all types of cheese at La Chevriere de Monnoir, I decided to apply one of them to the featured twist. What a wonderful marriage of tastes you have in the result! Salty-sour- tangy-aromatic-crunchy and soooo gently savory sweeet: a real dance the taste buds weary of pumpkin and squash.
Tips for the first time onion caramelizing:  
Slice the onions as thin as possible (sharpening the knife is always a good idea).
Use the scratch-less, non-stick skillet, OR be ready to use much more oil to prevent burning the onions.
Begin with medium-high heat and the minimum amount of oil, lowering the heat progressively as the onions begin to brown.
Do not leave the onions unattended for longer than 2-3 minutes, or they will burn.
Don’t forget to include garlic and thyme (fresh or dried) in the process – these two ingredients are crucial for the final taste result.
A splash of dry wine, brandy or apple cider vinegar in the final minutes would add an extra layer of taste and a nice touch of sourness to the onions.
The layer of onions spread on the pizza should be half as thick as the crust.

As for the pizza dough, which I’ve tried many, and can tell you that this recipe is really foolproof and the best one for me. As long as you have a working yeast, it always, always works, so please take a 
note of it.

Well, thank you all for reading this post. I hope you will have fun making your own pissaladière and my recipe will be of help. For now I’m just going to eat another piece. Oooops, it’s gone in less than a minute. Well tried and tested and highly recommended for your own sweet November. The Enya’s gem song might as well put you in the mood.
Sweet November Everyone!

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PISSALADIERE: CARAMELIZED ONION PIZZA WITH GOAT CHEESE, BLACK OLIVES AND ANCHOVIES
Yields 6 portions
Ingredients:
1 pizza dough (see this recipe for the foolproof homemade pizza dough, OR use store-bought) 
1 tbsp cornmeal for dusting
4 tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzle
2 lbs onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp thyme, fresh or dried
1 big splash of wine, brandy or apple cider vinegar (optional)
Sea salt and pepper to taste
1 handful of pitted black olives, halved
3 oz (2/3 cup) goat cheese feta, crumbled
8 salted anchovies fillets (rinsed and patted dry if baked in) (optional)
Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 450F. Place the pizza stone in the middle of the oven (if using). Roll the dough out on a floured surface into a flat round or rectangular shape. Transfer the dough to baking sheet dusted with cornmeal. Cover the dough with plastic or a damp cloth and let it rest for 30 minutes.
In the meantime, heat the 3 tablespoons of oil in a large non-stick skillet to medium-high. Add onions, mix vigorously and lower the heat to medium-low. Sprinkle with thyme. Keep mixing every other minute. Add garlic and mix. Continue cooking for another 20 minutes, stirring every 5-7 minutes until the moisture has evaporated and the onions caramelized to almost a marmalade consistency. Add a splash of wine, brandy or apple cider vinegar. Stir and evaporate for the next 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.
Remove plastic or cloth from dough, brush with 1 tablespoon of oil and spread the onion mixture, leaving ¾ inch border all around. Arrange cheese, olives and anchovy fillets (if using) over the onions, then slide onto the hot pizza stone (if using) or onto the middle rack of the oven. Bake pizza for 18-20 minutes, or until the crust has browned. Remove from the oven, cut into wedges and serve warm or at the room temperature.

End of Line Adventures: Whole Fish Grilled or Baked in Salt


‘Eww, what’s that?’ I can hear you saying looking at the images while I’m posting this almost a week upon drafting (sorry, I’m temporarily in vacation and away from my computer). Well, what can I say, at least I’m not offering you a blood sausage or a liver pate (not just yet, because one day I surely will). Some foods deserve more attention than they actually get and a whole fish is one of them… I know that besides the ocean/lake taste, scaling, gutting or de-boning fish may repulse some people and I do hope you are not one of them. But if you are, in favor of its deservingly good rep among healthy celeb foodies like Martha Stewart, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sting, Trudie Styler and others, I can tell you that poached, steamed, baked, roasted or grilled whole fish is actually considered to be a light and elegant meal by many; and is a must do on many personal chefs’ menus.  This recipe is one of the easiest and the most impressive one in this repertoire.
Here is what you can do with a pack of salt and one whole fish. Just gut the fish, keep the scale on, wrap it in salt (with the choice of your seasoning) and grill it or bake it for 25 to 35 minutes depending on the size of the fish. I personally find this trick (leaving the scale on) invaluable for fishing or camping menus, when you catch a great perch or walleye (both are great tasting fish, but a bloody disaster when it comes to scaling).  The scale will come off with the salt crust easily upon cooking (where not, just gently remove it with the sharp knife). 
The result: moist, well-done, packed with oceanic or lake flavors tamed by the diffusing aromas of whichever herbs, condiment or spices (from peppercorns and bay leaf to mustard, sriracha, soya sauce, to lemon, bacon, salami, parsley, thyme, or just any edible wild grass you can find around your camping spot including young cattails shoots and wild garlic) you decide to insert in the fish cavity before encrusting it in salt.  Truly, I’ve seen no better or easier way to bake, roast or grill the whole fish to perfection, keeping it simple, not to mention the impressive presentation. Don’t worry about the saltiness, once you break off the crust and remove the salt, the flesh will be just perfectly salty and succulent. 
Earlier this summer we went for our first fishing trip this year to Champlain Lake at the US border for walleye and perch, but only caught some baby pikes, which we released back into the lake. For the times like that I always bring at least one whole fresh fish with me in the cooler to grill later on a BBQ, so we can embrace the ambiance and the great fishing spirit no matter what, and share the incredible fishing stories over the plate of what could have been the fish we caught. 

This time is was a haddock (previously I also salt-crusted successfully white fish, tilapia, perch and walleye). Haddock is great for the recipe: the flavors are enhanced and there is some smokiness added to the taste. We had it with salsa verde and fingerling potatoes and everyone loved the tender savory fillets sprinkled with parsley and drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice. 

Great tip from Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Turshen:rub the fish with soya sauce before encrusting it in salt to give it some Asian flavor kick:
Even those in our gang who don’t usually admire any kind of fish (they fish for sport, we fish for fish) reluctantly admitted it tasted great. You will never know until you try it for yourself. Good luck fishing and grilling; and as the Irish blessing says: ‘May the holes in your net be no larger than the fish in it.’


WHOLE FISH BAKED OR GRILLED IN SALT CRUST
Ingredients:
One whole fresh fish (1 to 2 lbs), gutted, with head, tail and scales left on
1 tbsp soya sauce, rubbed in fish (optional)
8-10 black peppercorns
3 bay leaves
Small bunch of fresh parsley (or mix of parsley and thyme), chopped
2-3 lbs of coarse salt, preferably sea salt
3+ tbsp of water or beer (to mix with salt)
Lemon, butter, olive oil to sprinkle with when serving
2-3 scallions and some fresh parsley, minced, for garnish
Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 400F, or the BBQ to medium high.
Rinse the fish in cold water, pat dry with paper towels. Insert the peppercorns and parsley inside the cavity of the fish.
Mix the salt in a bowl with enough water or beer to make a consistency of the sand castle sand. Spread half quantity of the salt on a roasting pan lined with aluminum foil slightly bigger than the fish. Lay the bay leaves on the salt and place the fish on the bay leaves. Spread the remaining slat over the fish until it’s totally encrusted. Leave the tail fin exposed if necessary.
Place the pan with fish on the middle rack in the oven or on the BBQ grill and bake for 25 (for 1 lbs) to 35 (for 2 lbs fish) minutes. The salt crust will become dry and hard. Remove the fish and gently crack of the layer of salt, removing as much as you can. The skin will come off the fish as well (use the sharp knife to remove the rest if necessary).   
Remove the fish fillets and divide between warm serving plates. Drizzle with olive oil or melted butter and lemon juice and sprinkle with scallions and chopped parsley if desired.