In our rush to embrace the new and exciting (and yes, we own up to being guilty of that even here at ), sometimes the familiar, simple things get left by the wayside. Admittedly, trout almondine (or amandine, depending on which cookbook you refer to) hasn’t enjoyed its heyday for a good decade or three, but that’s no reason not to bring it back. It was popular for good reason.
Fancy name, simple dish. Essentially, trout almondine is lightly floured trout pan-fried in butter and sauced with a classic beurre noisette in which slivered almonds have been browned. A squeeze of lemon adds the required acidity, while a scattering of parsley is simply de rigueur for almost any French classic.
As with all simple dishes, its success hinges on quality produce. Fresh, fresh fish and butter and almonds of good quality.
Let’s be clear: with this recipe we’re talking about rainbow trout, with its delicately flavoured, blushing pink flesh, rather than the more flashily hued ocean trout. Look out for specimens roughly the size of a dinner plate with lustrous slippery skin, firm flesh and a fresh smell. Ask your fishmonger to clean them for you and you’re halfway there in terms of prep.
Just before cooking, toss the trout lightly in well-seasoned flour, then cook it in a large frying pan until it’s just cooked through. Transfer it to a warm plate and keep it warm while you make your beurre noisette.
For a successful beurre noisette you’ll need to use well-chilled, cubed butter – it melts quickly and evenly. The milk solids will caramelise and go nutty instead of simply clarifying and burning. You want the butter to be dark golden. Anything less will lack the requisite nuttiness; anything more will taste like charcoal and be bitter and inedible. Strange as it may seem, you’ll need to listen to your butter. The butter will bubble noisily at the beginning, but as it starts to caramelise, it goes silent. At this point, swirl in the almonds and a good squeeze of lemon. It doesn’t get much simpler than that. Match it with steamed new potatoes and crisp green beans or a vinaigrette-dressed bitter-leaf salad and dinner’s done in no time. Fast and most definitely fabulous.
There’s nothing new about trout almondine, writes Emma Knowles, but there’s every reason to bring it back in vogue.