Trout with a Pan-Asian Twist — Pepper Basil Trout

| March 18, 2010 | 1 Comment

From my childhood in Thailand and Singapore, I remember a fish dish that Mom cooked. She would deep fry a whole fish and then smother it in sauce comprised of bell peppers, tomatoes and garlic that was simply seasoned with fish sauce. In most restaurants, this would probably pass as sweet and sour fish if you added some vinegar to the sauce. But I just called it “smothered” crispy fish.

Recently when pondering what to do with some good-sized rainbow trout—which is plentiful in lakes and clear-running streams near the mountains in Oregon as well as in the fish cases of most well-stocked supermarkets—I decided to merge this memory of “smothered” crispy fish with a stir-fry dish that we often have at home, Thai pepper basil chicken. (Minus the chicken, of course.) We were having a friend over for dinner who’s also an avid fisherman, and I thought he might enjoy the dish. Plus his wife is Thai so I thought it might be something that they could enjoy trying at home.

It turned out really good. Until the part where we got to talk about fishing and he boasted of having 40-plus trout in his freezer at one time (vs. my dozen or so). I guess we can tell who’s the real fishing pro at the dinner table! Oh well, I thought, at least he enjoyed the meal. I’ll have to get in more fishing trips to Detroit Lake to stock our freezer.

Trout with a pan-Asian twist — Pepper Basil Trout

I figured the combination of flavors from  bell peppers and tomatoes would merge nicely with ginger and basil. The hardest part about preparing this dish was deboning the fish. I would have provided step-by-step photos, but I was alone in the kitchen and wasn’t about to get trout juice on my expensive camera. So instead here’s a link to Eagle Eye Guiding, which has provided step-by-step photos illustrating the process. The key is having a very sharp thin-bladed knife. If you’re out fishing, don’t try this with trout that are smaller than a pound. For fish that small, you’d better cook them whole because there isn’t enough flesh on them bones to debone them.

The deboned trout is smothered by yellow bell peppers, shallots, tomatoes, ginger and basil as well as the sauce.

Pepper Basil Trout

To serve 4 people

  1. 4 medium-sized trout at least 1 pound apiece
  2. 1 cup (240 ml.) chopped yellow or green bell pepper
  3. 1/4 cup (60 ml.) peeled and julienned ginger
  4. 1 cup (240 ml.) chopped fresh basil
  5. 1 cup (240 ml.) thinly sliced shallots
  6. 4 diced plum tomatoes
  7. 4 tablespoons (60 ml.) orange juice
  8. 4 tablespoons (60 ml.) Ponzu sauce
  9. 3 chopped cloves of garlic
  10. 2 tablespoons (30 ml.) sesame oil
  11. 2 tablespoons (30 ml.) peanut, safflower or other cooking oil

  • In a bowl, combine chopped bell pepper, shallots, ginger, basil, tomatoes, garlic, orange juice, Ponzu sauce, and sesame oil and set aside.
  • Wash and debone the trout and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Line two baking pans (with sides to contain the liquid) with heavy-duty aluminum foil.
  • Brush the foil with cooking oil to keep the fish from sticking to it.
  • In each baking pan, arrange two of the deboned and butterflied trout skin-side down.
  • Spoon the chopped vegetables and herbs over the flesh of the trout, taking care that you apportion enough to cover each trout.
  • Spoon the remaining sauce at the bottom of the bowl over each trout.
  • Bake trout in the oven for about 15-20 minutes until thoroughly cooked.
  • Garnish with some cilantro, if you wish, and serve.


— Vic

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Category: Seafood

About the Author (Author Profile)

Victor Panichkul is a journalist and writer by training; a cook, wine lover and photographer by passion; and a lover of the outdoors since moving to Oregon more than 10 years ago. He is a native of Bangkok, Thailand.

Comments (1)

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  1. noble pig says:

    Absolutely beautiful! What a wonderful memory.

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