A warm sunny day in the uncertain spring of Seattle, and fennel is showing up. It is time for grilled trout stuffed with fennel fronds and lemons.
A grilled romaine salad with sautéed onions and fennel with a creamy, garlicky dressing and some bread will round out the meal nicely. A dry, citrusy white wine would do wonderful things with this as well.
2 whole trout (thoughtfully cleaned by your fish purveyor)
2 fennel bulbs – with fronds. (If the ones you find have had them already cut off, ask for untrimmed ones, they are usually easily procured.
Pat the fish dry, and place them in your fridge uncovered to dry the skins out a bit while prepping grill and the rest of the dinner.
Chop off the large, fennel stems. Cut or tear off the smaller feathery ends. The very tender ends can be chopped up to go in the salad/salad dressing. (Or if you are making rice, added to that while it cooks.)
Everything smaller than the big heavy stalks will be used to stuff the fish.
Slice the lemons medium thin – 5 slices +/- per lemon. (12 slices, plus half a lemon left for salad dressing.)
(Chop ingredients for the salad too if you are making one. In fact, let that fish skin continue to dry in the fridge while you finish all the rest of the prep. The fish take about 10 minutes once they hit the grill.)
Make sure your grill grates are clean, and rub them with a paper towel with enough oil to make them shiny. (Use a variety that has a high smoke point – like canola, walnut or grapeseed oil).
Start heating your grill to high heat.
(Special tip – if using a charcoal grill, toss these large stalks onto the charcoal for some fennel flavored heat.)
Take the fish out or the fridge. Open the middle. Sprinkle with salt, and lay down three lemon slices. Stuff in fennel fronds. Lay down 3 more slices, and tie up with cooking twine (cotton or linen string – NOTHING plastic based)
Rub the outside of the fish with a little oil, and place on the hot grill.
Cover the grill and cook for about 4 minutes. Gently flip the fish. If the skin is sticking, wait until it unsticks (gently check every minute or less). Turn the fish over, cover and cook the same amount on the other side.
Clip the string,
Slice the fish.
Enjoy the good life.