Fish & Foul

by jkatejohnston

Last weekend in Tahoe we went to the trout farm, and Enzo caught a nice little cheap fish. We’re regulars there, and so the owner gave us two frozen trout as a bonus. I ate Enzo’s fish, and we took the frozen ones home to Sacramento and I put them into a big Tupperware to defrost. A few days later I thought, I have got to cook those trout, I’ll feel like such an idiot if I let them get old. And I looked and looked and looked. Fridge, freezer, fridge, freezer. I asked Teresa if she did anything with them. She didn’t. And I finally found them in the cupboard where we keep the Tupperware.

Thank goodness for the airtight seal. Trash collection had been that morning, so I couldn’t throw them away in our outside trash to fester for a week, especially since it’s going to be in the hundreds for the next few days. So I wrapped the Tupperware in a big plastic garbage bag and put it in the freezer. And it shames me every time I get a Fudgsicle.

Enzo’s trout was delicious. Baked for around ten minutes, lifted off the bones, put in warm tortillas with sweet red pepper and tartar sauce made with limes, mint, salt and mayonnaise. It would have been nice to have cilantro. Enzo ate one bite and gave one bite to Duncan. Fine. More for me.

I just have to add that when I worked at the ranch, Marshall told me I was the only cook he’d ever had who didn’t overcook the salmon. It’s been over twenty years, and I still haven’t quite recovered from the glow. (They were big salmon filets. Seven minutes in the convection oven with a little spot of butter on each one.)

Our latest thing is making our own syrups for sno-cones and sodas. You just make simple syrup and then start adding shit. So far we’ve made Skittles syrup and lemon-lime syrup. You make the snow for the sno-cones in the food processor. And for sodas, just add the syrup to bubbly water. I want to try caramel ginger syrup. Fresh ginger slices in simple syrup and let the syrup keep bubbling until it’s a bit brown, not totally caramelized, but a bit brown. Cool and hope it’s still a liquid. Then put it on stuff like oatmeal. Or use instead of sugar in things like tea or apple pie.

I also have an idea for homemade candy that I think would be fun. Make some spiced sugar, as for cinnamon toast (cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom). Melt the sugar in a saucepan, stirring like crazy and not burning yourself, while the sugar turns grainy, then clumpy, then into a clear liquid, then light brown, then caramelized but not burned. (I think Enzo would get a kick out of this transformation.) Spread out waxed paper or baking parchment (actually do that first) and pour the melted sugar out in a thin stream, making fun shapes. Let cool and eat.

Whatever doesn’t get eaten you could put in the food processor and make into a kind of homemade sanding sugar (you know that decorative baking sugar). And sprinkle it on stuff.

One last thing–yesterday while I was cooking dinner Enzo got out his tackle box and made what he called dinner for a fish: a big, multi-hook bass lure that we found at the river baited with mouse tails, hot-pink, sticky marshmallows and glittery rubber grubs.