Ok, I have to honestly say that when I was talking about this week's theme for I Heart Cooking Clubs, my husband really thought I said something entirely different. He was a tad bit confused when I started breaking out fish filets and large quantities of butter.
For this week's theme, the idea is to make something using your pantry staples. Well, my idea of what constitutes a "pantry staple" may differ from others, but one thing that there is never any lack of in my house is butter. Hellooooo.... we live in the country, its a staple. While I was trying to decide what to make for this particular theme, Ginny texted me from her local co-op where she had just found fresh rainbow trout, a new favorite of ours since attending a cooking class last year. Once we knew we had the fish, the whole plan came together.
And no, I am not trying to claim that rainbow trout is a staple, but it IS the vehicle for my selection for this week's IHCC theme!
In my neck of the woods, it is commonly understood that "everything is better with butter" (and bacon, but that's another post entirely). In my house, in particular, it only gets better when you make it a "compound" butter, meaning you add lovely flavors to it. Most commonly you see this in some variation of a garlic butter.
In Bittman's "How To Cook Everything", he has a number of compound butters listed, and we decided to try three of them, and have a throwdown to decide which was our favorite by gently pan frying the rainbow trout filets and dressing them up with the finished butters. For each of the butters, we just brought the butter to room temperature so it was nice and soft, mixed in the ingredients, and then chilled to solidify. I know you may be thinking that some of the ingredients below may be a stretch when referring to pantry staples, but if you've ever been to my kitchen or are aware of my love affair with Penzey's spices.....well, you'd understand.
(clockwise from the top - Mustard Butter, Wasabi Butter, Ginger-Lime Butter)
4 ounces butter
1 tsp wasabi powder (we used 2 teaspoons, because one just wasn't enough.)
Ginger Lime Butter
4 ounces butter
1 TB fresh grated ginger
1 TB lime juice (we also added the zest from the lime, for extra punch)
4 ounces butter
1 TB mustard (we used the Guinness mustard that Ginny made recently)
These butters can be kept in the fridge for a week, or indefinitely, depending on the ingredients you use. We doubled each recipe so we would both have leftovers to keep in our respective fridges.
Now, for the results!!!
We lightly seasoned four trout filets with salt and pepper and gently pan fried them, skin side down first, until the fish was opaque and flaky. We topped three of the filets with one of the butters, and then, since the last little filet looked sad and lonely, we slapped a dollop of our favorite butter on it so that it would be happy before we scarfed it down.And our favorite was? The Ginger Lime!It was bright and flavorful (really glad we added the zest) and it had enough staying power to hold up throughout the dish. The other two butters were good, but may have been better suited for different dishes. While both the mustard and wasabi butters were tasty, we felt they fell flat when used on the clean slate of the fish. I may have to try the wasabi butter on some popcorn later this week, and the mustard on a nice steak, hot off the grill, this weekend.
The basic concept here is that you can add anything to butter, so give it a try! I can promise you won't be disappointed.