New Orleans Seafood Cookbook
by Ralph Brennan
In French cooking, the word amandine can be tagged onto any preparation that is flavored with almonds, especially pastry.
In New Orleans' French-Creole cuisine, amandine always refers to a method of cooking trout—or, to be more specific, to add butter-toasted almond slivers onto trout meuniere, which is trout fillets that have been dusted with flour, sauteed in butter, moistened with a bit of lemon and garnished with parsley.
Trout amandine has been a menu staple in New Orleans restaurants for a hundred years or more. Taste it and you'll understand why.
For 6 servings
• Recommended alternate species: flounder, red snapper, sea bass, walleye
• Two small batches of the fillets are cooked at once in separate skillets to allow sufficient space for even cooking.
• Each batch is cooked in fresh clarified butter to achieve the best flavor and color in the finished dish.
• A rimmed baking sheet large enough to hold all six fish fillets
• Heavy-duty aluminum foil
• 2 heavy 12-inch saute pans or heavy 12-inch skillets
• A large, shallow dish, such as a pie plate
• A large, broad and sturdy spatula
• A heavy 9-inch skillet
• 6 skinless trout fillets, each weighing 5 to 6 ounces
• 2½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
• 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1½ cups clarified butter, divided
• 1 cup seasoned flour
• 2/3 rounded cup blanched sliced almonds
• 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon minced fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley leaves
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Line a rimmed baking sheet large enough to hold all six fish fillets with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Set aside.
3. Arrange the fillets in a single layer on a work surface.
4. Sprinkle kosher salt and pepper on each fillet on both sides, using a total of 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt and the pepper.
5. In each of two heavy 12-inch saute pans, heat 1/2 cup clarified butter over medium-high heat until hot, about three minutes.
6. While the butter is heating, place the seasoned flour in a large, shallow dish such as a pie plate. Dredge each fillet in the seasoned flour, pressing the flour in lightly so it adheres to the fish, then shaking off any excess.
7. Once the butter in the two skillets is hot, reduce the heat under each skillet to medium, and carefully slide three fillets, skinned side up, into each skillet of butter. Cook until light golden brown on the underside, two to three minutes.
8. Gently turn the fillets over with a broad, large and sturdy spatula. Continue cooking for one minute more. With the spatula, lift each fillet from the skillet and blot some of the butter with paper towels as you transfer it to the baking sheet.
9. Now, bake the fillets, uncovered, until all are just cooked through, about two minutes. To test the fish for doneness, insert the tip of a thin-bladed knife into the thickest part of the fillet for approximately 10 seconds. Remove the knife and lay the tip of the blade flat against the inside of your wrist. If the tip feels hot against your skin, the fish is done.
10. While the fillets are baking, in a heavy 9-inch skillet heat 1/2 cup clarified butter over high heat until hot, about three minutes. Add the almonds and cook about 30 seconds. Add the lemon juice, remove from heat and swirl the pan a few seconds. Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt and the parsley and return pan to high heat for about 30 seconds more until the almonds are golden, stirring or swirling pan as they brown. Remove from heat and serve immediately.
Serving Suggestion: Arrange a fish fillet on each heated dinner plate and top each with a portion of the almonds and butter in which they were browned.