Go West for Steamed Trout with Fennel

Steamed trout with fennel (1 of 13)“Go West” – a gay pride anthem, an Ulster Rugby chant and advice dispensed by the then editor of the New-York Tribune, Horace Greeley in 1851 as “Go west young man, and grow up with the country.” The pride anthem was originally released by the Village People in the late seventies and brought up to date by the Pet Shop Boys in 1993. I have that version on my iPod.  I sang the Ulster Rugby version, with tears in my eyes, along with 18,000 others at my hallowed Leinster Rugby ground, the RDS, to honour Nevin Spence, a very talented Ulster Rugby player who died in a tragic accident on the Spence family farm in 2012. I can claim no association with Horace Greeley.

However, all the above are asides to today’s musings. The “Go West” I want to promote today is instruction to a dear family friend, Gerry. He brought us a delicious brown trout, caught by his own fair hand, while on a sojourn in his beloved Connemara. So, I reckon that if Gerry goes west to Connemara, I have a chance of another wonderful wild trout. Just for clarity, this is the real deal. This is no farmed specimen. This was plucked from Lough Mask using decades of practice, guile and local knowledge.

Given the provenance of the fish, I thought it best to keep the preparation simple. So, I steamed it, using the ultra-controllable gas barbecue, on a bed of fennel with white wine.

The beautiful 2lb trout having it's last rest, on a bed of fennel.

The beautiful trout, weighing in at well over 2lb, having its last rest, on a bed of fennel.

I folded the aluminium foil over the fish, leaving an opening to facilitate adding the wine.

Like a final request, the condemned fish gets it last drink.

Like a final request, the condemned fish gets its last drink.

I then sealed the parcel and left it on the barbecue over a medium/low heat for 15 minutes. While this was looking after itself, I prepared some noodles to accompany the fish. First, I chopped some garlic, ginger, red onion and green beans. These were added to some hot oil in my trusty (and not rusty) wok.

I fried these until they started to give off a delicious aroma.

I fried these until they started to give off a delicious aroma.

Then I added the sliced beans.

The beans add a lovely bit of colour and crunch to any stir-fry.

The beans add a lovely bit of colour and crunch to any stir-fry.

I stirred until they reached a hot green colour. That’s enough. Then I added four portions of noodles, prepared earlier.

A good splash of chili oil helps to lift things.

A good splash of chili oil helps to lift things.

I then poured in a ‘good splash’ of chili oil. Then a couple of good glugs of soy sauce.

“What’s a ‘good glug’?” you ask. “About a tablespoon and a half.”, I answer.

I stirred while it heated through and combined the flavours.

This bit is not an exact science. Experiment to get what YOU like.

This bit is not an exact science. Experiment to get what YOU like. It’s all about YOU!

I then opened the sealed parcel containing the trout.

WOW! What an aroma. Wonderful fresh fish, fennel and white wine.

WOW! What an aroma. Wonderful fresh fish, fennel and white wine.

Next, I brought the fish, in its parcel, to the table and removed the skin.

This is what a perfectly cooked trout from the West of Ireland looks like.

This is what a perfectly cooked trout from the West of Ireland looks like.

I then lifted the flesh off the bones. A few stray bones are inevitable. I picked them out while humming my new favourite tune “Go West, there are big trout there, Go West….”

The texture and tone of the meat was fantastic.

The texture and tone of the meat was fantastic.

We then ate the fish, served on a bed of tasty noodles.

Not my best ever plated shot. But I was more interested in eating than shooting.

Not my best ever plated shot. But I was more interested in eating than shooting.

This was a truly magnificent dish. The fish was wonderful and, as I type, I am looking forward to having some cold tomorrow. I can only reiterate my original wish “Go West Gerry, go West……”

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Latest comments
  • I was just thinking about trout cooked in aluminum foil 🙂

  • I’ll never hear that song quite the same way ever again. That trout looks perfect in every way – lucky you.

    • Thanks Linda, I often feel guilty posting such simple fare. However, it was just so elegant and tasty, I had to do it.

      • If you have a perfectly fresh ingredient like that trout, gussying it up would be a crime. Simple is often best, don’t you think?

        • I really do. However, I seem to get the guilts if I don’t spend three days and nights preparing stuff for the blog. I need to get over myself!

          • Sorry, typo, *would* be a crime. And I don’t know what the weather’s like where you are, but an elegantly barbecued trout would be perfect here right now.

          • Here too. Today is the first day that I have come to work without a jacket. It’s just too warm. I love it! I’ll fix the typo, because I know what you PR types are like!

  • Of course a recipe will rock if it stays simple. Simplicity makes a recipe more intense, flavorful and sensuous. I adore the way you treated that beautiful Trout.

    Your noodle preparation filled-up my senses and stomach.
    What a BEAUTIFUL, fabulous, lovable post!

    • Nusrat,
      I look forward to your comments so much. You are always so positive and warm in your words.
      Thank you,

  • Brilliant: both the Connemara trout and that moreish Asian noodle stir fry! Hope your friend returns west real soon 🙂 ! . . . .

    • Eha,
      I’ll be sending him, no matter what he wants to do himself!

  • There wouldn’t have been any leftovers in this house…. One of my favourite fish, beautifully cooked in his flashy alfoil sleeping bag… My brother used to get up at sparrowfart to catch trout from the stream at the bottom of the 5 acre field. Panfried trout for breakfast, an enduring memory, but not, I suspect, as utterly delicious as yours!

    • Kate,
      You have me in a state of deep envy. The prospect of popping to the end of the garden to catch breakfast would have me getting up before I go to bed. What a lovely thought.

      • It was pretty good… if we were really, really lucky, there would be mushrooms to be picked on the way back up to the house as well.

  • I often cook trout and other fish in foil like that, but rarely get to eat it wild and fresh like yours 😉

  • Yes indeed Gerry, go west. Go now man. Quickly 😁
    Tasty stuff there Conor.

    • My late father used to fish those waters too. It was very different back in the day, when there were more fish and less people trying to catch them. I have some photos, going back over 30 years, showing dad catching some amazing fish. I should really retire and go fishing myself. If only…..

  • Looks excellent! I have to wait to try this as it is too hot to BBQ! Temps in the high 90’s low 100’s here…We are steaming! Be well Conor!

    • My thoughts with you on the weather Barb. Cool down and get out to cook.

      • I am looking forward to doing this dish!

    • I feel for you on the weather front Barb. Hopefully it will cool down soon and you can enjoy the outdoors again.

      • Reached 102 yesterday. That number is supposed to be today’s high, so it might reach 105 here. Stinky hot with clouds carrying moisture, so humid too.

        • I hate to say it but rather you than me! Hopefully it will pass soon.

          • Getting cooler. Yesterday was 98. Woke up to 73 this morning. Means another stinky hot day….Making some broccoli slaw today! Yummmm…

  • I’m a bit jealous of that great looking wild trout! Looks like you did it justice. There are some great shots in this — my favorite ones are the last drink and the steam coming from the trout.
    Very appropriate anthem as well, although your timing is a bit West as well as Ireland beat the US to it.

    • Thanks Stefan,
      I enjoyed the last drink shot myself. It’s so silly. I really should have made a bit more of the anthem, given the way we have voted. Great to see the U.S. getting with the rest of the more enlightened world.
      Best to you and Kees,

      • Thank God for your voting! Our current PM is widely known as ‘The Mad Monk’ – I believe wanted to become a priest ere he began proselytising to people in politics! So you can guess his ‘self righteous’ attitude: now it is SO good to say ‘but the Irish voted yes!’ – it counts here a heap more than what the US says 😀 !! Things are ‘in the works’ anyways and we are hoping a ‘yes’ before Yule!!! And his sister happens to be a lesbian and an activist 😀 !!!

        • There’s no doubt, it brings out the best and the worst in people. Fun times.

  • That was one beautiful looking trout…personally I couldn’t add all those flavours to such a simple and wonderful fish but you made it sound mouth wateringly good. I’m also not a fan of Leinster, or come to think of it, any Irish sides. They make me nervous from the moment they run onto the pitch until the very last whistle…a bit like the All Blacks…:)

    • Sadly, we haven’t done too well against French sides in the past couple of seasons. Still, losing is an important part of winning and I look forward to next season. I take your point on the trout. It would have been just wonderful with some simple steamed potatoes and asparagus.

  • Its the glazed over eyes that makes me a bit funny about whole fish…they kind of stare in an accusing way…

    • There are none so blind as those who don’t want to see…

  • im already going west looking for this beautiful trout and some village people hits! looks amazing

  • Is it just me, Conor, or does that fish look resigned? Like it died a very Irish death. As in “Oh, but I was a handsome catch. Feck it anyway. And now this is the end. But there are worse ways to go.” You’ve heard of the Salmon of Knowledge. This might be the Trout of Philosophy. A most palatable, beauteous way to consume meaning.

    • Tara,
      “an Irish death”. Only an Irish person could understand what you mean by that. You have me chuckling this morning. The Trout of Philosophy should feature in Tark and Mara. You know that it would fit in beautifully, ironically and with great humour (assuming you are not getting a ghost writer to do your stuff). Great concept.

      • A ghost writer, Conor? You must be joking. I couldn’t afford it.

  • I see you’ve been seasoning your wok proprerly! Nice looking fish too, tasted as fresh as the waters it was plucked from no doubt 😉

    • The very best fresh fish. The wok is a little like myself, older, but, improving with age!

  • Good to see you keeping that wok well seasoned! I reckon that fish tasted as fresh as the waters it was plucked from. Now I’d like fish please. That fish. I hope you found something crisp and white to wash it down with. I showed my mum how to roast a whole ocean trout a few years back. Now it’s on the table for every Xmas. Cheers.

  • The fish looks divine. I found some lovely cod at the farmer’s market this morning. One way I’m doing it is in the tin foil on the grill as well. This one is charcoal so I’m a bit nervous as I’m used to a gas grill.

    • Hi Virginia,
      I would probably give a nice bit of fresh cod no more than 5 minutes on a charcoal grill. You can always cook it a bit more. Hard to uncook it, if you over do it, in my experience!

      • Thanks for the tip! It’s a nice thick piece of fish but I don’t want to “kill” it.

  • On my very first ever fly-fishing experience in British Columbia, my then boyfriend (now husband) and me landed six brook trout between the two of us from a river in British Columbia. We pan-fried them with butter and a little salt and pepper in a cast iron skillet over hot coals in the firepit. One of my most memorable meals! Fresh caught wild trout is the best. You did a fine job with it, and not adding too much to overwhelm the delicate flavor was an excellent idea, Conor. 🙂

    • The best has to be as you cooked them Kathryn. The fresher the fish getting into the pan, the better. I wish I had been there!

  • Hard to beat a wild trout. A couple of years ago I got 56 fishing days in (my years record) and ate wild trout almost twice a week every way imaginable. It picks up smoke off the grill wonderfully and I love a good charred skin. Foil and wine is a great elegant preparation for it and it appears you did the little fella justice. Love it!

    • Thanks for that. I love the blogs. We get to share and learn so much from each other. I envy you the 56 days. I haven’t managed 5 in years!

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