Trout. Forget everything you ever thought about it.
Not on the menu very often, and for one big reason. Its overshadowed by its big brother – Salmon. Now, you can use salmon for this dish, heck, you could use smoked salmon if you so pleased (actually, that’s not a bad idea…). But, I really feel that trout has a big part to play in making this dish super light and super quick to make – in fact you could whip this up in about 10 minutes if you’re experienced, and more importantly, organised! The fish is thin, and you can cook it quick whilst enjoying that all important crispy skin. It can be “muddy”, but if it’s fresh and good quality it shouldn’t taste like that at all.
The idea behind this dish was simple – make a quick, light lunch that was big on flavour but low on calories (and still carb-y). The herbs in this do just that – big flavour, little – to – no calories. In fact, they should be your secret weapon when cooking. Always always get those fresh herb plants from the supermarket, I have a basil plant that’s lasted 4 weeks – no, seriously! The herbs added to the sauce at the last minute is what makes this dish sing, and you can use any you like – but chives bring that subtle onion-y note and the parsley is that good old reliable friend that never misses a beat. Basil would be good, and possible Tarragon. Go wild, experiment with different herbs.
The sauce is based on cream cheese and starchy pasta water. The lighter the cream cheese, the lighter the sauce. For balance of taste I recommend a light cream cheese, but if you’re really looking to keep the Kcals down, go for lightest (i.e. Philadelphia Lightest). On the other hand, you could go all out and use the full fat version, it would be seriously good. The cream cheese mixed with the pasta water creates a really great silky smooth base, and you use it to de-glaze the pan from your trout – enhancing the flavour even further (do not clean you pan after sautéing your fish!). You add a couple ladles of the pasta water to the cream cheese and combine until smooth, then you cook the sauce down until it coats the back of a spoon and you can run you finger clean through the middle. If the sauce parts and stays apart, then you’re good.
Remember to always finish the cooking of the pasta in the pan as well – you want it just about al dente, and then you can cook it in the pan and coat it in the sauce for about a 1minute or so and then you’re there. It does make a difference doing it this way.
Plating pasta can be a tricky thing sometimes, but it can also be blimming easy if you don’t really care, are eating for one or are intimidated – you just plonk it on normally, right? Well I’m also here to tell you how to plate it like a professional chef (disclaimer – I’m not a professional chef, but I’ve watched a lot of videos, and I plated up this one pictured above so…). Get some good quality tongs and a nice big ladle. Grab your pasta with your tongs until you get a nice big bunch between them. In one hand with the tongs and the other hand with the ladle, squeeze the pasta and place it into the ladle – now, all you need to do is start twisting. Twist until you get a nice round ball of pasta. Then gentled place in your bowl, and tilt the ladle int the bowl whilst still grasping the pasta with the tongs. Slowly release the tongs once the pasta hits the bottom of the bowl, and gentle release whilst slightly twisting (I should really do a video on this… one day!). Now you should (with a bit of practice) have some professional looking spaghetti!
Right, on to the recipe! Don’t forget to tag us on instagram @forkandtwist if you make this dish, we love to see your creations!
Crispy Pan Fried Trout with Spaghetti in a Creamy Cheese and Chive Sauce
- Frying Pan
- Large Saucepan
- Sharp Knife
- Chopping Board
- Fish/meat chopping board
- Wooden Spoon / Spatula
- 4 Fillets Skin-on Trout may need some de-boning
- 350 grams Good quality spaghetti
- 2 cloves Garlic, minced
- 50 g Chives, finley chopped
- 25 g Curly leaf parsely, finely chopped
- 250 g Light cream cheese
- 1 tbsp Salt
- 10 g Butter
- 5 ml Oil
- 0.5 tsp Freshly cracked black pepper
- Prepare everything first before cooking. Boil a full kettle.
- Get your fish pan on a medium heat (no oil).
- Chop your chives and parsley.
- Mince your garlic.
- Clean your fish – wiped them down with a paper towel until dry. Feel for bones, run your fingers accross the flesh and see if you can feel any – if you can, use a pair of clean tweezers to pull them out.
- Salt your fish skin side with a half tsp per fish.
- Weigh your butter and your cream cheese. Place into bowls or dishes.
- Once your kettle is boiled, add this to a sauce pan and put on full whack to get to a rolling boil. Salt it, and mix the salt in well – a heaped teaspoon is about right.
- Once the pasta water is ready, rolling boil and salted, add the pasta. Stir once or twice whilst cooking to prevent sticking. Turn down the heat a little, but keep the water boiling. This will take at least 10 minutes.
- At 10 minutes, taste – is it al dente? Yes – Drain and catch the water in the jug. No – repeat taste test every minute and check.
- In your pre-heated frying pan, add the oil and then the butter (this will stop the butter burning). Place the fish skin side down, as it hits the pan it should sizzle. Let the fish cook skin side down for about 2-3 minutes. Try not to move it. Salt the flesh slightly with a small pinch for each fillet. Once the skin is crispy – test it by flipping a fillet over and scraping it with a fork, if it feels and sounds crispy it's they're all ready to be turned. If not, cook skin side down for 1 more minute and check again.
- Once all turned flesh side down, cook for about 30 seconds to 1 mintue until it's cooked through – 1 minute maximum here. You can check by turing one fillet flesh side up after 30 seconds and looking to see if it's still raw in the middle – cut it open slightly if you're unsure. You don't want to overcook it, but you don't want to eat soemthing raw in the middle.
- Remove from the pan once cooked and set aside. Cover with foil lightly to keep warm (don't cover too much as it will overcook).
- In the frying pan where you cooked the fish, add a little oil – a tsp will do. Add the garlic and cook for 20-30 seconds until fragrent but not brown. Add the cream cheese and move around the pan to pick up any crispy fish bits. Add a ladle of pasta water and mix with the cream cheese well until there are no lumps. Add one more ladle of pasta water and mix well. Turn the pan up so the sauce begins to simmer. Try and de-glaze the pan with a wooden spoon/spatula to pick up any bits from cooking the fish – this is flavour.
- Reduce the sauce down until it coats the back of a spoon and you can run your finger through it to create a parting which remains. This should take about 3-4 minutes.
- Turn the heat down to low and add your herbs and pepper. Taste. Is it a bit flat? Add a pinch of salt, stir and taste again. Do this until you get the right seasoning balance. Add salt little by little. You can always add more, but you can't take it out.
- Once al dente, add your pasta. Mix into the sauce well and cook for a further minute on low.
- Using the ladle trick mentioned in the post above, place a nice twisted heap of spaghetti into a bowl. Place a crispy trout fillet on top, sprinkle with more herbs and flakey sea salt and all that's left to do is fork and twist! Enjoy, and tag us on Instagram to show us your creation.