As my culinary education was coming to a close, I had one dish that stood between me and graduation, Trout with Mustard Sauce and Lentils. Fish Station. American Bounty. Final Boss.
I had never worked a line before, much less cooked fish on the fly. I was nervous and my classmates didn’t help. Except one perhaps – my MIT (manager in training) – who I suspect had a crush on me. Maybe I had a crush on him too…who knows? He was kind and soft spoken – I should have thanked him. “What else?” Maybe my station partner too. I could never tell if she liked me; but, she was usually encouraging.
However, when the chef called in an order for trout, I could feel certain eyes turn to me. Their sweat-streaked smiling faces lit up with joy as my distress increased. The potential for my failure seemed to give a few of my classmates a deep satisfaction, one they did not hide. So much for team work!
In my head, “You can do this, you can do this, screw ’em! You got this.” And I did – well sort of. I passed the class, but the sight of trout continued to give me chills for some time.
Such a shame, as it was a delicious dish. Crispy skinned trout nestled on a pile of earthy lentils with a tangy mustard wine sauce, doesn’t that sound tasty? Me being me, I didn’t feel right letting the dish (or memory of it) defeat me, I wanted to crush it.
So here it is. As I prepared it, ghosts of the few unkind culinary students and my angry chef seemed to mock me. However, I presented my finished plate and with one bite all the negative energy swimming around in my head was gone in an instant. Maybe the final boss wasn’t the fish but the nastiness I had to endure while cooking it. I survived it then and I have conquered it now.
Make your lentils! Place lentils in pot and cover with water. Add salt, garlic and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook until tender. Drain and set aside.
Add your white wine to a sauce pan and cook over medium-high heat. Reduce by 1/2.
Add two tablespoons of mustard to the wine that’s reduced. Whisk it in.
Add 2 tablespoons of butter a few cubes at a time while whisking. Sauce – DONE!
Get ready to cook your rainbow trout. Get your pan screaming’, I mean screamin’ hot. Give it a few turns of oil and add trout, skin side down.
Cook for 4 – 5 minutes until skin is crisp and then flip. Cook for another 2 – 3 minutes until just cooked through.
Let’s get ready to plate this bad boy a la CIA. Reheat your lentils in a sauté pan with a little bit of water. Using a ring mold make a pretty little circle of lentils on your plate.
Spoon your mustard sauce around your lentil circle and top with your little trout guy. Close your eyes, cross your fingers, say a prayer and pass your plate to the MIT. Hope to goodness it passes inspection. Whoop! You’re done. EAT THAT FISH!!!!
Final Boss Trout and Lentils with Mustard Sauce
For the Lentils:
1/2 cup of french lentils
1 cup of water
1 clove of garlic
1 bay leaf
For the sauce:
1 cup of white wine
2 tablespoons of dijon mustard
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 filet of rainbow trout, cut in half
Chopped parsley for garnish
Cook your lentils. I rinse and sort through my lentils making sure there are no pebbles. Then add your lentils to a small sauce pot and cover with water. Add garlic and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Season with salt. Cook for 30 minutes or until tender and drain. Set aside.
To make the sauce, place the wine in a small sauce pan over high heat. Reduce by 1/2. Whisk in the mustard until fully incorporated. Whisk in the butter a few cubes at a time. Season with salt. The sauce should be thick but smooth and creamy.
To cook the trout, heat a pan over high heat and coat with a few turns of oil. When the oil is hot, place the trout in, one piece at a time, skin side down. Cook for 4 – 5 minutes until the skin is browned and crispy and flip carefully. Cook for another 2 – 3 minutes until just cooked through.
To plate the dish, put a pile of lentils in the center of the plate, surround it with a few spoonfuls of mustard sauce and place the trout on top.
Garnish with chopped parsley and serve immediate.