I love plank grilling and I love to plank grill fish more than anything else. The gentle flavor of smoke you get from plank grilling enhances the natural flavor of the fish. Plank grilling is a fantastic versatile way to serve fish. I knew fish was on the menu so I just had to figure out what fish it was going to be.
One of my favorite markets to shop at when I want the nicest produce and fish is our local Nugget Market. I know that I can always find something different to cook there. When I walked into the meat department my eyes were drawn quickly to the bright colors of the (farmed) Golden Trout.
California Golden Trout: Once called the Volcano Creek Golden Trout, this species was designated as the State Fish by the California Legislature in 1947. Their range encompasses about 120 miles of stream habitat found mostly within the Golden Trout Wilderness high in the Sierras. The California golden trout is a State Species of Special Concern (Source: Fish Species of Special Concern in California, CA DFG, Second Edition, June 1995.) and a Forest Service classified Sensitive Species. The golden is the most likely California-native species to be federally listed as endangered, due to habitat degradation, primarily by livestock, and planting of non-native trout species. (Courtesy California Trout, Inc. www.caltrout.org)
- 3 tablespoons fig preserves
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 1 pinch cinnamon
- ½ inch piece fresh ginger, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt (kosher or sea)
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 large golden trout per person
- Melt butter in a small skillet. Add cinnamon, ginger root, salt and zest. Saute over low heat, just until the ginger is tender. Add the fig preserves and heat through. The fig preserves will take a little coaxing to melt. Use a whip or hand mixer to completed incorporate all the ingredients.
- Soak your wood plank. (I use wood planks from Rocky Trail) Most directions for wood planks state you should soak your planks for 30 minutes. I have found much better luck soaking them for an extended period of time, no less than 2 hours.
- Pre-heat your wood, charcoal or gas grill to hot. Although I have all three I think it's much easier to properly plank cook food on a gas grill than wood or charcoal. Controlling the heat is key to success and it's just easier on a gas grill.
- Wash, dry and season your fish with your favorite fish seasoning. I used just kosher salt. I wanted to be able to taste all the additional flavors from the lemon and figs.
- Place wood plank in the middle of your grill. Once the wood starts to smoke you are ready to put your fish on.
- Place a layer of lemon slices on the wood plank. To really add flavor to your fish you can also layer some herbs on top of the lemon slices. Place the fish on top of the lemon slices. Layer another row of lemon slices on top of the fish.
- Reduce heat to medium and close the lid to your grill. Don't open the lid again (if your looking, you ain't cooking) for about 15 minutes. Check temperature of your fish. The recommended internal temperature for properly cooked trout is 145 degrees. However, I prefer to take my fish off the grill about 10 degrees cooler than that. Just like every other meat if you cook it to the "recommended" internal temp it's likely over cooked.
- Let the fish rest for at least five minutes while you plate the couscous. Lay the whole fish on top of the couscous, spoon the fig butter over the fish and serve immediately.