So Long, and Thanks for all the Trout

by Ed

Today, we’ve approached our first year anniversary  here at Ruxbin, and it’s amazing how much has taken place in the year. There’s so much that I’m thankful for, from our reception by the public, the positive press that we’ve garnered, our continual growth and maturity as a restaurant, to the fact that in an economy that isn’t in the best of times we’re still here, and not just surviving, but in many ways thriving.

Our success has been manifold, from the staff to the decor, from blind luck to naivety, to our loyal regulars and the overall positive reaction to our food. Which brings me to the point of this post: Trout.

From the onset of Ruxbin there has been one entree that has been with us from day 1, and that has been our Pan-Seared Trout.  Trout quickly became one of our signature dishes, and (in no small part through the imploring of our customers) is the only entree that has survived each menu change.

It’s a dish that I love for a number of reasons:

1. It takes a relatively common fish and treats it with the care and attention that would normally be shown to a protein of more exotic and/or greater value. For example, we fabricate the fish in a manner similar to that of sashimi and we pan sear it like one would a filet of Dover Sole.

2. It’s a dish composed of relatively simple ingredients whose sum becomes greater than its individual parts.

3.  It tastes pretty damn good.  As one of my cooks said “the dates, bulgur, and trout might not be a traditional combination, but tastes like it should be” (and that is a mighty fine compliment).

The trout has been one of Ruxbin’s standards, and if I were to personify it, it’s been a great friend to us. It’s been with us from the beginning, through thick and thin. With all that being said as we continue to grow and mature as a kitchen, there comes a time when we have to retire a dish to make room for others.  So as we’re at the one year mark, and especially when we feel that a dish is no longer evolving, it becomes clear that we should say good-bye, for the time being, to our dear friend.  In celebration of this transition, this will be our last week of trout. And as a thank you to all those who loved this dish, I’ve posted the recipe, as well as a few photos that show part of the process that we go through to get this “common” fish to your plate.

Trout has been cleaned and filleted, and is now ready for pin-boning

40 orders of trout, depending on how fast you are this can kill your prep time, taking from anywhere to 40 mins if you're fast, and up to 90 mins if you're a slow poke

This is the light at the end of the tunnel: Trout has been portioned, 4 oz each, and is ready for either the pan or the fridge

1. Check if the skin has become crispy 2.Push flesh down with a spoon so that the entirety of the skin is in direct contact with the pan 3. Move fillets around the pan so that cooking is even throughout

We've found that the key to an extra crispy skin is that you need someone standing behind you, arms crossed, looking slightly bored. (In this pic Jason's doing his best to fill this important role.)

Accoutrements for our beloved trout

Finishing the plate you can get fancy with tweezers and spoons, but if you're at home feel free to use your fingers.


TROUT (protein portion)

4 oz            Trout (filleted, belly trimmed, scaled and pin-boned, cut into 2 pieces)

1 T              Canola oil/olive oil blend

2  T             Butter

1/8 ea        Lemon (Wedge)

3 sprigs      Thyme

1 t                Shallots (finely chopped)


1. Place saute pan on high heat, and wait for it the pan to get smoking hot, you literally need to see smoke coming off the pan.

2. Have your trout ready by your side, and lightly season the skin of the trout with salt and pepper. Add the oil to the pan, swirl the oil around so that the pan is evenly coated, and wait until the oil has the same viscosity as water.

3. Gently skim the surface of the pan with one of your trout fillets, if the skin is starting to stick this means that the oil is not hot enough, if it doesn’t, lay the fillet in the pan. Repeat with your other fillets.

4. With a spoon gently press the flesh of the trout down so that there is even contact with the skin of the trout and the pan.

5. As the skin crisps up lightly season the flesh of the trout with salt and pepper.

6. Crush the thyme with your hand and add it to the pan, be careful as the thyme will pop as you add it to the pan, tilt the pan away from you so that you don’t get too many splatter burns.

6. After about 45 seconds, attempt to lift the fillet off the pan with a spoon. If it sticks that means it is not ready, don’t worry, have some patience, the skin will release when its ready. If the fillet releases look underneath it to gauge how crispy the skin looks, if the skin resembles the top of a creme brulee its ready for the next step.

7. Add butter to the saute pan, and swirl. Lift the fillets so that the butter can get underneath the skin of the trout. The butter will turn the skin a golden brown, and will regulate the temperature of the pan.

8. Add a squeeze of lemon juice to the pan, and place rind in the pan as well, be careful as this will case splatter as well, so if you have a gas range momentarily turn off the heat and than put it back on, otherwise you’ll end up flambéing your trout.

9.  Add shallots to the pan, quickly spoon the brown butter in your pan over the trout fillets until the flesh is no longer translucent and has become an opaque white.

10. Remove fillets from the pan, skin side up, and pour the contents of the pan onto the fillets.

11. Dry fillets with a paper towel, and now your done with the protein portion.

BULGUR WHEAT TABOULEH (starch protion)

2/3  C  Bulgur Wheat (cook according to directions, and cool)

1 ea      Green Onion (chopped along a bias)

1 t         Sesame Seeds (Black)

1 t         Shallots (finely chopped)

1 T        Red Onion (chopped)

1 t          Lemon Juice

1 T         Butter


1. Place saute pan under high heat, and wait until it begins smoking.

2. Add butter, wait until it browns, and add the shallots, be careful that they don’t burn.

3.  Add Bulgur Wheat, flip the pan so that the Bulgur wheat is evenly coated with butter.

4. Add all other ingredients, add a dash of salt, and adjust for taste.

5. Bulgur is done when the grain becomes crispy on the outside, but still soft in the inside.

ASPARAGUS & DATES (vegetable portion)

3 ea     Asparagus ( bases gently peeled)

2 ea     Dried Dates ( rehydrated in hot water, for about 10 mins, and than halved)

1 t        Canola oil/Olive oil blend

1 t        Butter

1 t        Shallots


1.  In a hot saute pan, and wait until it shimmers.

2.  Add dates and wait until they brown, ~20 seconds.

3. In the same pan add the asparagus and wait until they become charred on at least one side.

4. Finish with butter and shallots, season lightly with salt.

BASIL OIL (sauce portion)

30 ea    Basil leaves

1 ea       Garlic, clove

A/N      Extra Virgin Olive oil


1.  Blanch Basil leaves in boiling water, less than 5 seconds, and than shock leaves in ice water.

2. Squeeze out as much water from the blanched basil as possible.

3. Place Basil in a blender with the garlic clove and add just enough oil so that basil can be blended until smooth.

4. Adjust with salt to your taste.


1. Sauce plate first with a light drizzle of basil oil around the edges of your plate.

2.  Place Bulgur Tabouleh in the middle of your plate with cooked dates mixed in.

3.  Place finished trout on top of the tabouleh

4. Arrange asparagus so that it looks pretty on the plate

5. Put a light smear of the basil oil on the edge of each trout fillet.



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6 responses to “So Long, and Thanks for all the Trout

  1. Marie

    Thanks for the recipe!! One of my favorite things to eat, period. 🙂 Congratulations on thriving through your anniversary!

  2. Nisha

    Jenny, what a great recipe. I can’t wait to come see your new restaurant! Best of luck.

  3. Christina

    my fav dish!!! now I don’t have to fly all the way to Chicago to eat it lol

  4. Kim Sula

    Love this recipe. Thanks.

    By the way, we are flying into Chicago on June 22. We plan to dine at your place while we are there.

    See you guys soon.

    Kim Sula

  5. Thank you so much for posting this! Happy anniversary! we had the trout tonight and can’t wait to give it a try in our own kitchen.

  6. Eden

    Sounds great! Can’t wait to try it at home!

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