Blackened Trout with Horseradish and Tarragon Tartar Sauce
Sticking with our current trend of trying to cook a bit healthier, I bring you our version of blackened trout. I say “our version” because we didn’t quite cook it the way it is supposed to be cooked.
For those unfamiliar with blackening, it is a cooking technique used in the preparation of fish and other foods. Often associated with Cajun cuisine, this technique was popularized by Chef Paul Prudhomme. For this technique, the seafood (or chicken) is dipped in melted butter, then liberally coated with a mixture of herbs and spices and then cooked in a very hot cast iron skillet. The seafood should have a brown-black crust that results from a combination of the browned milk solids of the butter and the charred spices.
While we could have gone that way, we opted to try and be a bit healthier by skipping the dredge in butter and instead lightly coated it in olive oil. Since the fat from the butter was omitted, I was afraid it might stick to a hot cast iron pan. Instead, I grilled it directly over open flame on a grill basket. It might not be truly authentic blackening and it might not be that much healthier, but it still tasted amazing! :)
And don’t get me started on the tartar sauce! That stuff should be illegal! I could eat it straight. In fact, I might have had a spoonful or two of it after I whipped it up. You won’t tell, will you? ;) Do me a favor…toss out that jarred crap you have floating around somewhere in the back of your fridge and make your own. You can thank me later. Ok, let’s get started with the tartar sauce, since the longer you let it sit, the better it gets.
The trout went “meat” side down at 500F to start.
Horseradish and Tarragon Tartar Sauce
- 1/3 cup light mayonnaise
- 1 tsp grated lemon zest
- 1 to 3 tbsp of prepared horseradish, I’ll let you decide how spicy you want it
- 2 tbsp finely chopped red onion (**update yellow onion work better**)
- 2 tbsp capers, drained and roughly chopped
- 3 dashes of hot sauce (I prefer Frank’s, but feel free to sub in your own brand and adjust if you want more)
- 2 tbsp finely chopped tarragon leaves
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (2 hours would be better if you have the time)
After removing the trout, throw a few shrimp on for a few minutes.
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 2 tsp dry mustard
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp salt
Mix together ingredients in a small bowl. If not using immediately, store in an airtight container.
Ok, you’ve got your tartar sauce prepared and your blackening seasoning is mixed up and ready to go. Time to get started on the fish (and shrimp if you want to add some as well).
- Pre-heat your grill to medium high. For our Big Green Egg, we stabilized it at 500F. I like to use a grill basket when doing fish as I find it easier to flip the fish. (If you don’t have one, it is not the end of the world. You can cook it on the original grates). Insert the grill basket onto your grill and let it come up to temperature with the grill.
- Brush your trout lightly with olive oil and season liberally with blackening seasoning. I mean go heavy with the stuff. Don’t hold back. If you are going to do some shrimp as well, shell the shrimp and dust with the seasoning.
- When you are ready to grill your fish, pour some oil on a paper towel and wipe down the grates on your grill. Trout is a fast cooking fish, so do not leave your grill while it is cooking. Place the trout meat side down on the oiled grates and grill for 2 to 3 minutes and then flip. If the fish is sticking to the grates, allow to cook 30 seconds to a minute more and then try to flip. The fish will cling to the grates until it is ready to flip. Once you flip the fish, grill for another minute or two. Remove from grill when fish reaches 135F.
- Allow fish to rest covered loosely with foil for 5 minutes. The temperature of the trout should carry over to 140-145 while resting.
- While the fish is resting, through a few shrimp on the grill if you like. They only take a few minutes per side.
- Serve with plenty of your home-made horseradish and tarragon tartar sauce on the side.
How can you resist?
Mrs. G told me later that evening that this had to be one of the best dinners we have cooked in weeks. The heat from the blackening seasoning was just right. The cool, creaminess of the tartar sauce offset it perfectly and the flavors were outstanding. She made me promise to never buy the jarred stuff again and to make it from scratch from now on. And the Brussel sprouts you see on the side there? Who knew I liked Brussel sprouts? I’ve been missing out all these years. Tune in later this week and we’ll show you how to make them. Mrs. G made them last night and I wasn’t paying attention, but she’s going to make them again tonight and I’ll make sure to take pictures and get a recipe. If only I knew before now…
Nutrional Facts Per Serving (minus the blackening seasoning and the shrimp)
Calories: 507 Protein: 47g Carbs: 1g Total Sugar: 0g Total Fat: 33g Saturated Fat: 4.8g
Cholesterol: 138mg Sodium: 661mg Fiber: 0g
We’ve made the tartar sauce numerous times since this post was written. In fact, we no longer buy pre-made tartar sauce anymore. While the red onions work fine, we’ve found that if allowed to sit, they tend to “stain” the tartar sauce and make it pink. We have subbed in yellow onions and that has fixed the problem without significantly changing the flavor profiles. While the red onions might give it an aesthetically pleasing edge, unless it is to be served within a few hours, we now opt for yellow.