Wild Steelhead Trout Dugléré

Last weekend I took home an incredible eight-pound wild steelhead trout caught by the local Quinault Indian tribe on the Quinault River and was looking for inspiration in how to cook it. It was a rather large fish for my family of three, so I decided to try a few variations. I combed through old cookbooks, new cookbooks, and deep into the internet before deciding on these three dishes. The first and the subject of today was a classic French preparation usually made with sole called ‘Wild Steelhead Trout à la Dugléré’. The other two were a sauteed Moroccan Steelhead with Green Charmoula on Cauliflower Couscous inspired by chef Mourad in San Francisco; and a Chinese Clay Pot wild Steelhead dish with Bok Choy, Shiitake Mushrooms, Ginger, and Fermented Black Beans.

Trout à la Dugléré in my style

WHO WAS ADOLPHE DUGLÉRÉ?

Adolphe Dugléré was born in Bordeaux on June 3rd, 1805 and died in Paris on April 4th, 1884 in Paris. He was a chef and a disciple of the legendary Marie-Antoine Carême. His career spanned from private chef to the Rothschild family to working at two of Paris’s best-known restaurants, Les Frères Provençaux, and the legendary Café Anglais.

His bio on Wikipedia describes him as “taciturn and serious person who demanded ingredients of the highest quality and abhorred drunkenness and smoking. He forbade his employees to smoke even outside of the workplace. Neither were customers allowed to smoke until dinner was over.”

THE MOZART OF THE KITCHEN

During Adolphe Dugléré’s career, he invented many classic dishes still being prepared today, including Pommes Anna, a potato dish I have cooked thousands and thousands of times, and Tournedos Rossini. It should be noted a few others have staked a claim at inventing Tournedos Rossini but his story seems most plausible. I have heard enough variations of the origin story and the consistent parts are Rossini was eating at Dugléré’s restaurant and asked that the chef prepare his filet with foie gras tableside and Dugléré snubbed him. To which Rossini replied “Eh bien, faites-le tourné de l’autre coté, tournez-moi le dos!” (“Alright, do it somewhere else. Turn your back on me!”). Composer Gioachino Rossini dubbed Dugléré Le Mozart de la cuisine (The Mozart of the Kitchen). Dugléré created many other famous dishes, but my favorite is Sole Dugléré, a poached sole dish with tomatoes and onions.

À LA DUGLÉRÉ

Sole à la Dugléré is a classic preparation made by lightly poaching sole filets with chopped onion, tomato, and parsley, then served in a sauce made from the poaching liquid, a touch of veloute to add body, a squeeze of lemon juice and a small knob of butter.

After reading several recent articles in prominent magazines and online sites I began to wonder if Sole à la Dugléré had become the fettuccine Alfredo of sole dishes. Fettuccine Alfredo is a classic preparation made with fresh, egg yolk-rich pasta cooked very quickly, then tossed off heat in butter and finely grated Parmesan till it emulsifies and becomes creamy and perfect. That’s it, no cream, no onions, no garlic, no cooking the sauce — just the union of three perfect ingredients tossed on a plate with a fork.

Like fettuccine Alfredo, modern cooks have bastardized this light dish by adding heavy cream, cheese, and even changing the cooking technique from poaching to a sort of baked gratin. Whether or not this tastes good is irrelevant. A la Dugléré is a classic dish with very basic and easy to follow rules.

CLASSIC OR NOT

Creativity and making up your own dishes is wonderful and exciting and I do it every day. Everyone should be inspired to cook and eat what they like. When you make a classic, there are certain rules to follow. The problem with changing classic preparations is you begin to alter what your guest’s expectations might be. When you do this online it becomes even more irresponsible because someone will copy your recipe and alter it even more. Then one day we are left with a dish that bears absolutely no resemblance to the original.

MY RECIPE

I am sure someone out there will correct me to say my Wild Steelhead Trout à la Dugléré is not classic. That what I made is no different than the prominent versions found in Google searches. I would counter what is it that makes this dish unique from the thousands of other classic French sole preparations? What defines à la Dugléré? The only answer possible is the ingredients: tomatoes, shallot/onions, enriched poaching liquid, and that the fish are poached lightly. Even Chef Dugléré applied this technique to fish other than sole.

Despite whatever fish you decide to poach, please post a picture of your creation and hashtag with #PistouAndPastis so that we can see what you came up with.

My twist on this classic was to serve the poached steelhead on a bed of lightly caramelized shallots and top the fish with slow-cooked tomatoes.

Wild Steelhead Trout à la Dugléré

A classic preparation made by lightly poaching fish with shallots, tomato, and parsley, then served in a simple sauce made from the poaching liquid, a squeeze of lemon juice and a small knob of butter.

Ingredients

Slow Cooked Tomatoes

  • 8 plum tomatoes sliced 1/4 thick
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp herbes de Provence
  • salt and pepper to taste

Lightly Caramelized Shallots

  • 2 tbsp olive oil or butter
  • 8 shallots peeled and sliced thinly

Poaching the fish

  • 1-quart fish stock, see notes
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 4 steelhead trout filets sub salmon, sole, cod, etc.

Finishing the dish

  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley

Instructions

Slow Cooked Tomatoes

  1. Lay your sliced tomatoes on a silpat lined sheet pan and season with olive oil, herbes de Provence, sea salt and black pepper. Put into a 300-degree oven and let cook slowly for 2 hours. The longer the tomatoes cook, the more moisture is removed from the tomato and the flavor becomes concentrated. These tomatoes are good on a number of preparations and can be made in bulk.

Lightly Caramelized Shallots

  1. Heat olive oil in a heavy saute pan and add shallots and saute over medium heat for about twenty minutes. It will be important to toss and turn the shallots often so they don’t burn. Season with salt and pepper, and reserve. This too is something you can make a larger batch of. It tastes great on everything from cheeseburgers to grilled steaks.

Poaching the fish

  1. Here is the only tricky part of the dish for newbies. Bring to a boil, your fish stock, white wine, lemon, and herbs then reduce to a slow simmer. Drop your fish fillets in and cook till done. You may ask, how do I know when it is done, to which I will reply by feeling it. A thin sole filet will poach in two minutes or less. A finger-thick filet of steelhead cooked in 5 to 7 minutes. If your fish is undercooked, drop back into broth and cook a little longer.

Finishing the dish

  1. Strain the poaching liquid into a new pan. Bring to a rapid boil and reduce liquid to one cup. Remove from heat, add one tablespoon of lemon juice, then whisk in butter and add parsley. Taste the sauce and adjust seasonings to make you happy.
  2. Put a bed of caramelized shallots on the center of a warm dinner plate. Top with a steelhead filet and arrange the tomatoes on top. Spoon sauce around and serve.

Recipe Notes

Look online for fish stock recipes. In a pinch, you can use canned clam juice or even chicken or vegetable stock.

Written by

My earliest attempt at cookery began with the filleting of my sister's goldfish at age 2 and cooking my pet rabbits by age 7. Life has been downhill ever since.

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