Monica Bhide recently invited food bloggers to participate in a Virtual Bloggers Dinner using recipes from her book Modern Spice. It sounded like so much fun and I put my hand up right away.
My dish for the virtual “potluck” dinner party was Pan Seared Trout with a Mint-Cilantro (Coriander) Chutney. The recipe was very simple. I was expecting to have to raid my spice rack and go on an extended trek for many wonderful ingredients but was pleasantly surprised and how easy this was going to be.
My local seafood shop had some coral trout, but sadly without the skin. I bought it anyway but was a little upset I wasn’t going to eat some crispy pan-fried fish skin with my dinner.
I ended up putting about half a red onion instead of a quarter, just on a whim, and because I love onion. I didn’t have a green serrano chile which the recipe called for but since this was optional I picked a couple of small chillies from a rainbow chilli tree I bought at the markets and used those. The tree is so gorgeous, purple, red and orange chillies! All gone now though since I made some chilli jam the other day.
Back to the trout! The Mint-Cilantro chutney was as simple as throwing a bunch of ingredients into the blender to make a yummy paste.
I followed Monica’s instructions to pan sear the trout and it came out perfectly. (Ignore the part of the picture where it looks like I smooshed the fillet)
I made a little vegetable, noodle stir fry to go with the fish for dinner as well.
Andrew was very impressed with the fish and so was I. The chutney was so fresh and went really well with the fish. I was worried it was going to be very minty but it wasn’t at all. By following the recipe I ended up making more than enough chutney for quite a few more serves so I’m looking forward to cooking the fish again (hopefully with some skin on this time).
I had lots of fun doing this and ended up cooking something I might not have tried otherwise. I hope Monica has another one of these soon.
To see the other dishes made for the Virtual Dinner, check out Monica’s site http://mbhide.typepad.com/
And here is Monica’s recipe if you want to try it for yourself.
Pan-Seared Trout with Mint-Cilantro Chutney
If you are reading this recipe and thinking, “Really, can it be that simple?”—yes, it is, and it is simply delicious. Don’t take my word for it, though. Get a pan out and start searing!
Serve the trout with a drizzle of the Mint-Cilantro Chutney.
Prep/Cook time: 15 minutes
4 skin-on trout fillets, about 6 ounces each, halved lengthwise
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1?4 cup Mint-Cilantro Chutney
1. Season the trout fillets with salt and pepper.
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the trout, skin side down. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Flip over and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, until the trout is cooked through.
3. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels, skin side down.
4. Place each fillet on a serving plate and drizzle each with up to a tablespoon of chutney. Serve immediately.
This is the most popular chutney in India, hands down. It can be found in many Indian-American homes, in restaurants, and now in jars on grocery store shelves. Its charm lies in how simple it is to prepare. My father always adds a little yogurt to his chutney to make it creamy and then pairs it with lamb kebabs. My mom-in-law adds a hearty dose of roasted peanuts and serves it with savory snacks; Mom adds pomegranate seeds—you get the idea—to each his own.
This versatile chutney has so many uses. Thin it a little and use it as a salad dressing for a crisp green salad; use it in the consistency provided here as a spread on a baguette topped with fresh cucumber slices; or simply drizzle it on some freshly grilled fish for a fresh flavor.
One word of advice here: Green chutneys have a short shelf life. Make them in small batches and make them often—they only take a few minutes but the rewards are well worth the effort (which really isn’t much).
Makes 1 cup
Prep time: 5 minutes
1 cup packed cilantro (leaves and stems)
1 cup packed mint (leaves only, please)
1 green serrano chile (optional; if you don’t like too much heat, remove the seeds)
1?4 small red onion, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon dried pomegranate seeds (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1?2 teaspoon table salt
Up to 2 tablespoons water
1. Blend the cilantro, mint, chile, onion, pomegranate seeds (if using), lemon juice, and salt in a blender to a smooth paste. To aid in the blending process, you can add up to 2 tablespoons of water, if needed. Taste and add more salt if needed.
2. Transfer to a covered container and chill for about 30 minutes.
3. Serve cool. This chutney will keep, refrigerated, for 4 days.