I first learned about storing fish when my twin brother and I were given the daily task of cleaning and sanitizing the iced fish cooler at our family's resort hotel on Squam Lake. Ideally fish is stored just above freezing and lower than average refrigerator temperature of 38-40°F. You can create the same conditions in your home refrigerator, place some ice cubes in a plastic zip so it creates a single layer, place it in a shallow pan to catch any melting water that might leak from the bag. Place in the refrigerator and place your wrapped fish on top of the bag of ice. You can also use frozen ice packs and then not worry about melting ice.
When buying fresh fish, choose a market that displays their fish on clean ice. The counter and fish should smell fresh, not fishy, sour, or ammonia-like. The fillets should display no discoloration, darkening, or drying around the edges. I usually ask them to cut the fish into portions. Wild or sustainably farmed salmon is another nice alternative to Steelhead Trout.
Perhaps you’re fortunate enough to have your own vegetable garden, then you’re aware of how flavorful and nutritious radish leaves are. Radish leaves have more iron, calcium, vitamin C, and phosphorus than the radish itself.
I first learned about them when I was organizing a southern Indian culinary training for professional chefs 15 years ago. A few of the uses for radish greens are in stews, flat breads and rice. The radish leaves have a crunchy texture with a spicy peppery flavor. The flavor of the radish leaves ranges from mild to very hot, depending on the age and type. Choose bright and crisp green leaves free from blemishes and avoid any with pale color.
The pesto is very easy to make and will keep refrigerated for several days. If it happens to separate, just stir until smooth. The acidic lemon juice or vinegar brightens the color and balances the flavor of the pesto.
2 pounds fresh steelhead trout with skin, cut into 4 equal size portions
Olive or vegetable oil
Radish Leaf Pesto
3 cups large of good-looking radish leaves, stems removed
1 clove garlic, germ removed, cut in four pieces
½ cup olive oil, plus more to get the consistency you like
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
salt to taste
Cut the leaves from the radishes, wash in cold water and drain well. Cut and discard the stems from the leaves.
Cut the garlic clove in half and remove the center strip if it has sprouted or green. Cut the half slice in half so you end up with 4 quarters of garlic.
Put all the ingredients in a food processor, blender or mini-chopper, and process in short pulses until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl twice for even chopping. Add more oil and pulse again for the consistency you prefer. Spoon into a clean container, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Grilling the Steelhead Trout
Before heating the grill, remove any built up debris to avoid large flames.
Unwrap the fish fillets and very lightly brush the tops and skin sides with oil. Place on a flat plate and refrigerate while you preheat the grill.
Preheat the grill to 400°F. Place near the grill a long handled spatula and long sleeved insulated oven or grill gloves. Once the grill reaches temperature, place the fillets skin side down on the hot grill. Cover and let cook for about 8-10 minutes, depending on thickness or desired taste. Using the long handled spatula, remove the fillets to a clean plate. Top each with about 2-3 tablespoons of pesto and serve at once.
I usually don’t grill my fish on both sides, it helps avoid the fish sticking to the grill. However if you like the look of grill marks on your fish, then start with the lightly oiled skinless side down first for a few minutes. Then flip over to finish cooking.
As with all grilled meats, avoid turning the meat more than once and never press on the meat with a spatula or any other tool while grilling. All that does is make it dry since you are pressing out all the juices.