Triple Steelhead Trout Broth with Gravlax and Pirozhki

Posted by Florian in Estonian Food, Fishing, Russian Food, Seafood, Ukrainian Food, tagged with , , , , , , , ,

I’ve said in the past that if you want to avoid crowds, the Monday after Thanksgiving is a good day to fish on the Salmon River. Well, here’s another quiet day to go fishing in the area: Mother’s Day. Real sentimental, those fishermen! Come the second Sunday of May, they leave their fishing rods in the garage, trade their waders for that one good suit stored in a garment bag in the back of the wardrobe, and take Mom out to the diner… OK, I’m just making stuff up. I have no clue what fishermen in the Thousand Islands Seaway were doing this year on May 8th. Maybe they decided to ignore the wind forecast and risk their lives on Lake Ontario. Or maybe they went fishing on Oneida. Only one thing’s sure, we didn’t see many of them on the Salmon River, and that gave us the chance to claim first dibs on many productive fish holes. With several hundred more casts and a few more hooked fish under my belt, I almost feel like I’m starting to know what I’m doing — for everything else, there’s Captain Troy. The catch limit for steelhead is only one fish per person per day, but with Troy’s quota, that put two very nice trout in my cooler.

Salmon River - Steelhead Trout Fishing

It can be hard to come up with creative seafood recipes. Unlike meat, fish seems to come with only one cut: the fillets. Unless you’re of the waste-not persuasion, you probably discard the head and bones, together with whatever flesh remains attached to them. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, where most people think that a cold chain is a misspelled piece of jewelry, fisheries collect those same meat scrapings, freeze them, and ultimately send them to your local sushi restaurant, which then charges you premium prices for a few spoonfuls of “spicy salmon” that give you food poisoning with all the regularity of a customer loyalty card; that is, free of charge with every tenth purchase.

But this recipe says No! to food waste (and laxative sushi) by making a serious attempt at using all parts of the fish, in three different ways:

  • The head and bones flavor the trout broth base. The trimmings from a whole fish make much more stock than you’ll need for this recipe, but you can keep the extra to make many other seafood soups.
  • The thickest part of the fillet is perfect for gravlax. This isn’t my first gravlax recipe on this blog (that’d be here), but it’s a lot more classic. And why gravlax? Because the cured fish brings salty bursts of flavors to the soup.
  • The tips of the fillets, and well as any flesh left on the bones, serve as filling for pirozhki. The baked dumplings are a traditional soup accompaniment in Russia. (This isn’t my first pirozhki recipe either — I made porcini pirozhki here.)

This recipe’s also a textbook foodpairing case. I’ve used L’Essentiel de Chartier to pair the trout with as many chemically compatible ingredients as possible: tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, chanterelles, shallots, and paprika. I just needed one more ingredient to make the broth a bit more interesting, and I opted for sorrel, which I found in several Ukrainian soup recipes.

The result is a soup that crosses cultures and latitudes, from Baltic gravlax (in Estonian, graavilõhe or simply soolalõhe, salted salmon) to Russian pirozhki, to Ukrainian-inspired broth. Not that the delimitation is very clear: wherever there’s fish, people cure it in salt; the dough for my pirozhki is adapted from Olia Hercules’s Mamushka, a Ukranian cookbook, and I’m shaping them exactly like my recently-posted Latvian Latvian piragi; and sorrel can grow anywhere from the Baltic to the Black Sea.

Russian Food - Trout Broth with Pirozhki

Trout gravlax
Yields about 6 servings

65 g sugar
40 g kosher salt
4 g cracked peppercorns
55 g dill with stems, coarsely chopped
400 g cleaned trout fillet, skin and bones removed

  • In a bowl, combine the sugar, salt, pepper, and dill. Rub mixture thoroughly all over the trout fillets, then transfer to a sous-vide pouch, and vacuum-seal. Refrigerate for about 36 hours.
  • Take the trout out of the sous-vide pouch. Pat dry with paper towels, and (optionally) scrape off any remaining dill with a knife. Cover with plastic wrap, and reserve.

Trout Gravlax

Pirozhki dough
Yields about 6 servings

225 g milk, lukewarm
6 g active dry yeast
10 g sugar
320 g bread flour, sifted
5 g salt
20 g butter, melted

  • Mix half of the milk with the yeast and sugar.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fit with the paddle attachment, combine the flour and salt. With the mixer on medium speed, add the remaining milk, then the yeast mixture, then the melted butter. Mix for another 30 seconds, then cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for about 1 hour, until doubled in volume. Punch down, cover, and let rise for another 30-45 minutes, until doubled again.

Trout roe butter
Yields about 6 servings

35 g cured trout roe (or store-bought salmon roe)
70 g butter

  • Place the trout roe and butter in a food processor, and process until smooth.
  • Wrap in plastic film, and refrigerate.

Trout pirozhki
Yields about 6 servings (18 pirozhki)

60 g shallot
10 g butter
270 g cleaned trout fillet and scraps
trout roe butter, softened
3 g salt
2.5 g sweet paprika
AP flour
pirozhki dough
10 g egg yolk
10 g water

  • In a saucepan over medium heat, sauté the shallots in the butter until soft. Let cool.
  • Cut the trout into large dice. Transfer to a bowl, and combine with the shallots, trout roe butter, salt, and paprika. Grind the mixture in a meat grinder, using the coarse die. Refrigerate until very cold, then chill in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  • On a floured surface, roll the dough to a 40 cm square, and cut into 9 cm diameter discs — you should have at least 18 discs.
  • Mix the egg yolk and water to make an egg wash.
  • Brush the edges of each disc with the egg wash. Fill with some of the trout mixture, then fold the discs into half-moons, and finish folding (like I recently showed with piragi: explanations and video here). For the perfectionist, each dumpling should consist of 22-24 g of dough, and 20-22 g of filling. Transfer to a sheet tray lined with parchment paper, and let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Brush the pirozhki with egg wash, and bake in a 200 C / 400 F oven for about 12 min, until just golden. Remove from the oven, and reserve. Ideally, you would bake the pirozhki just before finishing the soup, so they won’t need to be reheated.

Russian Food - Trout Pirozhki

Trout broth base
Yields over 6 servings

400 g salmon head and bones
salt
black pepper, ground
20 g olive oil
100 g peeled onion, large dice
10 g tomato paste
5 g parsley with stems, chopped
600 g water

  • Season the salmon head and bones with salt and pepper. In the pot of a pressure cooker over medium heat, heat the olive oil, and sauté the head and bones until brown on all sides.
  • Add the onion, and cook until soft. Add the tomato paste, and cook for a few more minutes, until the paste turns brown.
  • Add the parsley and water. Cover, bring to pressure, then reduce the heat to low, and cook for 30 minutes.
  • Depressurize the pressure cooker, and open the lid. Pass the stock through a chinois, transfer to a plastic container, let cool, and refrigerate until cold.
  • Remove and discard the fat on the surface of the stock. Pour the stock into a chinois lined with a coffee filter, and let it pass through without stirring. Reserve.

Trout broth
Yields about 6 servings

600 g trout broth base
1350 g chicken stock
75 g heavy cream
210 g peeled baby carrots
210 g peeled baby Yukon Gold potatoes
240 g cleaned chanterelles
10 g canola oil
salt
black pepper, ground

  • In a pot over medium heat, bring the trout broth base, chicken stock, and heavy cream to a simmer. Add the carrots and potatoes, and simmer until cooked. Reserve.
  • In a saucepan over high heat, sauté the chanterelles in the canola oil until soft, and season with salt and pepper.
  • Before serving, reheat the broth if needed, and add the chanterelles to the pot.

Russian Food - Trout Broth with Pirozhki

Assembly
Yields 6 servings

trout gravlax
trout pirozhki
trout broth
about 60 g sorrel leaves, sliced

  • Cut the gravlax on a bias into slices about 0.5 cm thick.
  • Reheat the pirozhki in a 150 C / 300 F oven until just warm.
  • Make sure the trout broth is steaming hot, as we need it to cook the sorrel in the bowls.
  • Divide the gravlax into the soup bowls. In each bowl, pour some broth, then sprinkle generously with sorrel.
  • Serve with the pirozhki on the side. The pirozhki can be broken in half and added to the soup.

Trout Gravlax