We cooked this delicious recipe over an open fire alongside the Eel River in Benbow, California
Adapted from a recipe demonstrated by Joshua Schwartz: Executive Chef at Del Dotto Vineyards
Josh Schwartz has an eye for all tasty things in the wild. When invited to spend a day fishing and cooking with our American Rivers Tour crew, he was quick to suggest we start by foraging for watercress and other wild greens that sprout around the cool, clear creeks which run into Humboldt County’s Eel River. He reminded me that any wild fish we catch should be returned to the resource. Hatchery steelhead are available in Northern California so our recipe will help tell that story.
This recipe comes from Josh’s imagination. He stopped at a friends hatchery on the way up to Benbow, and took time to craft the vinaigrette and cultured cream in his kitchen before packing his drift boat and setting out from the Del Dotto Vineyard in Napa Valley where he is the executive chef. Then, just before launching the drift boat we stopped to forage tender, delicious succulents.
If you take a minute to watch our video, you’ll see that the skin of the steelhead is left on and lightly scored. He places the steelhead’s skin down on a hot, lightly greased surface and tops the filets with a stone to hold the skin tight to the cast iron skillet.
HATCHERY STEELHEAD WITH SMASHED POTATOES AND WILD GREENS
- 1.5 lb steelhead or hatchery raised rainbow trout, large filets best
- 2 cups diced pancetta
- 2 tablespoons bacon fat
- 12 small potatoes, boiled until soft, skin left on
- 4 tablespoons salmon roe
- 1 cup cleaned watercress
- ½ cup chopped mustard greens
- ½ cup fennel tops, rough chop candied kumquats (optional)
- Lemon vinaigrette (see recipe below)
- Cultured Coriander Cream (see recipe below)
Start by browning the pancetta in a hot pan. Add a little more bacon fat and the boiled potatoes. Using a stick or a fork, press lightly on the potatoes to smash them.
Place a second skillet on the fire and drizzle a little bacon fat from the potato skillet onto the cast iron base, then place each fish filet skin side down, cover with a stone or a can to hold the skin tight to the surface and cook at medium temp for 4 minutes.
Remove the stone, flip the filet, and finish for 2 more minutes.
To plate: First toss the cooked potatoes with fennel greens and then plate the potatoes. Top with a few spoonfuls of cultured coriander cream followed by the fish, salmon roe, and finally wild greens tossed with lemon vinaigrette.
A final touch of candied kumquats is wonderful, but optional.
For Lemon Vinaigrette:
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ½ small shallot, diced fine
- Pinch of salt
Combine all in a bowl, whisk and pour into a portable small container. Prepare in advance.
For Cultured Cream:
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons toasted coriander seed, lightly crushed
- 1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped
- ½ clove garlic, crush and chop fine
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 2 tablespoons finely diced onion
- 1 tablespoon pickling solution from pickled herring (optional)
- Salt & pepper to taste
Mix cream and buttermilk in advance, allow to rest at room temperature for 24 hours. Add all remaining ingredients, place in a portable small container. Refrigerate until packing for the trip, hold cool with the steelhead.