Enjoy the lighter side of the grill for just $4.78 per head.
The grill is a much more versatile tool than we sometimes give it credit. You don’t always have to throw lamb burgers or bratwursts on the grill, delicious as they may be. Sometimes you want something a bit lighter. In other words, sometimes you just crave some good ol’ grilled fish.
Whether you fish yourself or buy from a grocery store, it is very, very important to be aware of where your fish comes from and whether it is sustainable. It is legal to fish off of most piers without a license in California (all municipal piers need no license, other piers may need a license,) but for any other fishing you need to invest in a fishing license. Be sure to know how large any variety of fish must be to keep. Much of the halibut and other fish you catch must be thrown back if too small.
If you are buying fish, it is even more important to be aware of what you are buying. If we continue to eat fish unsustainably, we will not be eating that type of fish for long. It can be very confusing because some fish are terrible farmed, some are better farmed and domestically caught/raised fish is sometimes better and sometimes worse than imported fish. I highly recommend having a copy of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch guide in your wallet, purse, or on the refrigerator. They also have an iphone app now. Make sure to look up the new list for each year, as the sustainability of fish changes.
Alright, alright, I’ll stop preaching. (But, I am serious, it is important.) The issue this causes us frugal grocery shoppers is that it can be hard to find affordable sustainable fish.
Salmon cooked on a grill on a cedar plank is delicious, but wild sustainable salmon can be pricey. You will find it on sale from time to time, or at a good price at a seafood market, but you won’t always be able to afford it.
Rainbow Trout, however, is sustainable and almost always affordable at your local fish market. And it is equally good grilled on a plank. “Now, hold on a minute,” I hear you saying, “a cedar plank? Those things are expensive, aren’t they?” No, that is not so. The cedar planks they sell on display in the fish department of your grocery store are expensive, but they are just wood. You don’t need to buy it at your grocery store. (You wouldn’t buy chicken from your hardware store would you?) Go to the closest store that has a lumber department, they have plenty of wood scraps of things like cedar that are just as effective (if not more effective) to cook on as the (grocery) store bought planks. Oh, and keep in mind, it doesn’t just have to be cedar. Alder, hickory, or maple woods are also great for grilling.
It is key to soak your plank prior to grilling. The planks from the lumber department tend to be a bit thicker, so try to soak them at least 2 hours, or before you go to work in the morning. This will prevent the plank from catching fire while cooking.
We stuffed our trout with herbs and citrus and served it with wild rice that we tossed with mangoes and avocadoes that we found on sale, and carrots cooked in a little butter and lemon zest. A nice glass of lemonade topped with a little sparkling water made for a refreshing summer meal. (Although I also recommend a pinot grigio, sauvingon blanc, or my personal favorite, Ballast Point’s wheat beer brewed with orange peel and coriander if you can splurge for an extra dollar a head or so.)
Cedar Planked Rainbow Trout
2 rainbow trout, heads removed
1 cedar plank (alder, maple, or hickory will also work)
Sea Salt (I preferred a couple Tablespoons of whole crystal sea salt, but just a pinch of table salt will do as well)
Pepper to taste
1 teaspoon majoram (this is the dried herb I had on hand, use what you have in your kitchen. Good options are tarragon, loose leaf thyme, or even basil.)
- Soak the plank for at least two hours before grilling (can be soaked all day if necessary)
- Preheat the grill to a medium heat.
- Rub the skin and cavity of the trout with sea salt and a little olive oil. Also rub the cavity with pepper and majoram (or other dried loose leaf herb)
- Slice ½ of the grapefruit and ½ of the lemon. Halve those slices and stuff them into the cavity of the fish. If possible, also zest some of the grapefruit and lemon and place the zest in the cavity as well.
- Place the fish on the well-soaked plank and place directly on the grill and cover. Cook for twenty minutes. (You may want to check occasionally to make sure the plank has not caught fire. I’m not kidding.) Remove fish from the plank and serve immediately.
Eating Rainbow Trout can be slightly tricky. Simply peel back the skin and eat the flesh by tearing down or up the sides of the fish, to keep from getting to many bones. After you have eaten one half, the skeleton should easily lift up and can be discarded while you enjoy the rest of the fish.
1 cup wild rice
2 ½ cups chicken broth
1 mango, chopped
1 avocado, chopped
- Cook the wild rice according to the instructions on the package, using chicken broth in place of water. Also add a pinch of majoram (or other herb being used on the trout. I used the wild rice mixture from Trader Joe’s that also includes some quinoa and other whole grains)
- After the wild rice has cooked, stir in the mango and avocado and serve.
Lemon Zested Carrots
1 package frozen crinkle cut carrots
1 Tablespoon butter
- Boil water. Add the frozen carrots. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes.
- Drain the carrots and melt butter into the same saucepan. Add the carrots back to the pan and top with lemon zest. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes for flavors to develop and serve immediately.
Accounting: 4 Rainbow Trout $11.06 + Cedar Planks (@ $.79 each from Anawalt Lumber) $1.58 + ½ package Wild Rice (@ $1.99 from Trader Joe’s) $1.00 + Frozen Carrots $.99 +½ carton chicken broth (@ $1.99 from Trader Joe’s) $1.00 + 1 Mango $.99 + 1 Avocado $.99 + ¼ carton lemonade $.50 + 1 bottle sparkling water (@Trader Joe’s lime sparkling water 4 pack @ $2.00) $.50 + 1 grapefruit $.49 + 1 lemon (free from neighbor’s yard) = $19.10
Comes to 4.78 per person!