This recipe is the first of my own interpretations of the mythical “Lake Sevan Gifts” that I talked about in my last Armenian Adventures post. It was the perfect thing to do with the trout I just caught on Cayuga Lake!
Kutap is an ancient Armenian dish consisting of a whole, boned trout, stuffed with a mixture of rice and raisins. Now, as with most if not all Armenian recipes, there is controversy about whether it really is Armenian. In Azerbaijan, this could easily pass as a fish dolma… In fact, an Azeri was recently asking me: “If dolma’s an Armenian dish, how do you explain that the word for it isn’t Armenian?” (In fact it comes from the Turkish verb dolmak, “to be stuffed.”)
My version uses pounded fillets instead of the whole fish, making it more akin to a paupiette. The stuffing is very close to the one described in Pokhlebkin’s Cookbook of the Soviet Peoples, except I prepare the rice like a risotto. I served the kutap with a zucchini and basil purée.
Yields 4 servings
1 1/2 oz Arborio rice
1 1/2 oz golden raisins
3/4 oz butter
1/4 tsp grated fresh ginger
Urfa pepper, ground
1 1/2 oz white wine
4 oz chicken stock, warm
2 cleaned (skinned and boned) trout fillets, about 9 oz each (or 4 fillets half that size)
1 1/2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, cook the rice and raisins in the butter for 1 minute. Add the ginger, salt, pepper and white wine, and boil gently until almost dry. Add half of the chicken stock and simmer until fully absorbed, then repeat with the rest of the stock. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Take off 3 oz of flesh from the fillets and reserve. You can either use the tail ends if the fillets are small, or cut off the thickest part if they’re larger.
- Place the fillets between sheets of plastic wrap and lightly flatten using a meat pounder. You want to obtain four 4″ x 6″ rectangles, 1/4″ thick — approximately, this is not a math class.
- Chop the reserved flesh into small dice, and add along with the parsley into the rice mixture, then divide between the four rectangles and roll into cylinders. Tightly wrap the cylinders in plastic film, making sure that the stuffing is tucked in (this happens almost naturally).
- Steam the fish for 5 minutes, let rest for 1 minute, then remove the plastic wrap. Cut each portion on a bias and serve.