Trout with Tangy Dock Sauce
The other day, as I was exiting the highway near home, I glanced across the street and spotted a ten-story building which I'd never before seen. I pass that spot, either by car or bike, several times per week. Surely that giant took months to build. Perplexed, all I can think is, how did that happen?! How did a building that large get erected without my noticing?
The same thing happened with spring. One day I was looking out on an seemingly endless expanse of brown. The next, sedges and grasses carpeted the fields, and trees threatened to bloom. How did that happen?!
You'd think that nothing could match the wonder of a child in springtime, as she beholds each new blossom and sprout. Oh, precious moments. The truth is, nothing can compare to the absolute dumb-struck bewilderment of a dazed adult come spring. Forget your warm fuzzy images of the magic of the vernal season, and getting misty eyed over the mystery of the cycle of renewal. Spring shocks with its forcefulness and violence, more cunning and trickery than hippie woo-woo magic. For seemingly endless dark months, we were beaten down by the icy winds of winter. Then, out of nowhere, leaves and flowers, like a haymaker to the temple. Damn. How did that happen?!
At least there is consolation for my befuddlement, loads of fresh yummy food. Take for example, a meal thrown together from some trout my father caught in a mountain river, and dock plucked from a nearby field. If you've plenty of dock nearby, as I do, this is a versatile sauce that would also pair well with chicken or lamb.
Poached Trout with Tangy Dock Sauce1. Fill a large skillet with water, and add some of your favorite herbs and spices to create a tasty poaching liquid. I like garlic, bay leaves, crushed black pepper, and crushed allspice. Bring the water to a boil, and let it roll for a good five minutes to infuse the water with flavor. Then, turn the heat down so that only the tiniest bubbles are gently breaking the surface.
2. Slip cleaned whole trout into the water, and leave them be until it cooked through. This could take anywhere from 10-20 minutes, depending upon the size of your fish. To test for done-ness, see if the flesh easily slides free from the bone.
3. While the fish is poaching, saute a batch of cleaned and sliced dock in a touch of oil with some diced onion. Season it well with salt, and red pepper flakes.
4, As soon as the dock has wilted, remove the pan from the heat. Stir in a few big spoonfuls of full-fat yogurt, enough to make a thick sauce. Also add a spoonful of chopped pickled spruce tips (or capers). Combine well. The residual heat from the pan will be enough to warm the yogurt.
5. To serve, first remove the skin from the trout, then carefully remove its flesh, picking out any bones that you can feel. Reassemble the meat on a plate to look like a whole fillet, season it with a good sprinkling of salt, then spoon over the dock sauce. Top the dish with something crunchy, like sizzled shallots of slivered almonds.