Bernie Mason: Happy cooking (and happy fishing)

2014-08-13T00:00:00Z 2014-09-09T15:11:06Z Bernie Mason: Happy cooking (and happy fishing)By BERNIE MASON For The Gazette The Billings Gazette
August 13, 2014 12:00 am  • 

When you think of trout, you think of fly fishing in Montana.

It brings to mind dipping the freshly caught trout in cornmeal and pan frying it over a campfire. However, there are many other ways to prepare trout that you may not have tried.

One method I learned to use in college for a large trout, about one to two pounds, was stuffing and baking.

First marinate the trout in white wine for one to two hours. Remove from marinade. Fill the cavity of the trout with 1 thinly sliced onion, ½ cup chopped parsley, ½ cup chopped mushrooms, 1 thinly sliced lemon and salt and pepper. Close the fish; wrap the stuffed trout with strips of bacon. Place the trout on a large sheet of aluminum foil, wrap loosely and seal top and ends. Bake in a 400-degree oven until fish flakes easily with a fork, about 35 to 45 min.

Trout en Papillote (cooking with parchment paper) is another option. Using fish fillets or a brook trout, place the fish on one half of a large square of parchment paper and season with salt and pepper. Then add vegetables that you like, such as cherry tomatoes cut in half, shredded or chopped zucchini, chopped green onions and fresh pea pods. Add sprigs of fresh herbs such as basil, rosemary or thyme and top off with 2 tablespoons of white wine or 1 tablespoon lemon juice.

Fold the other half of parchment over the mixture, wrap the edges of the parchment over twice to make a tight seal and place filled packets on a baking sheet. Bake in a 425 degree oven about 25 to 35 min. Remove packets from oven. Cut a slit in the top of the parchment and serve the filled packet on a plate.

There are some basic principles we need to remember when preparing all fish. The recommended cooking temperature for fish is 145 degrees. Do not overcook fish because it can ruin the eating quality, making it dry and tough. If not using a thermometer, you can usually tell when the fish is done when it flakes easily with a fork and is no longer opaque. People may complain about not liking fish because it smells “fishy.” Fresh fish should smell sweet, like you are standing at the water’s edge. The eyes should not be bulging and the flesh should be firm. Fish should not be stored in the refrigerator for more than 2 days since it is very perishable. If you are planning to freeze it for longer storage, wrap well in freezer paper or freezer bags and freeze as soon as possible after catching. Use within six months.

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