Trout and Asparagus

This dish screams summer (and it should – I used seasonal asparagus!) but the larger takeaway, I believe, is the fact that at the core of it, cooking is actually quite simple, and it’s not that complicated to marry flavours together quickly – and deliciously!

This dish is one I make at the cottage often, and with good reason: It takes minutes so I’m not spending my short weekends slaving in the kitchen. It’s just a beautiful way you can do fish – whether that’s trout, wild halibut or pickerel. I do it in the frying pan on the stovetop because I want that crust on the skin (there’s truly nothing like it!), but you don’t want it to get dry so I tend to finish it off by baking it in the oven.

asparagus in fry pan

First, the asparagus: As I said, it’s seasonal so its sweet, delicate flavor really only needs to be boiled quickly with salt and pepper. Break the ends of the asparagus at their natural breaking point, but never cut the ends off: You run the risk of cutting too much! Bring water to a full boil in a shallow pan and once a fork slides into the thickest part of the asparagus, you know it’s done. It really is intuitive – you want the asparagus to still have a bit of “tooth” (i.e.: not super-soggy!). You have to feel the moment and recognize when it’s still firm. That’s when you take it out of the water. In the same frying pan (sans the water, of course) add fresh, salt-free butter, salt, freshly ground pepper and a bit of lemon. Sautee and serve on a plate. It’s a dish that’s clean and pure. I just love it.

Cooking Fish

Next, the fish prep. You want it to have crisp skin, and the trick to that is using a shallow frying pan that can also work double-duty in your oven. If you use a larger, thicker one you will likely poach or steam the fish, which isn’t the intended treatment in this recipe. Mix a bit of unsalted butter with a bit of olive oil – the combination is truly magic! Butter brings the sweetness and richness comes from the olive oil. They were perfectly together. Once the butter and olive oil start to sizzle, place the fish (seasoned on both sides with salt and freshly cracked pepper) skin-side down.

Now: leave it alone. Seriously. Don’t touch it. If you want that crisp, crackled skin (which is absolutely divine) you don’t want to mess around and move the fish. You could break the skin and likely break the filet also. Make sure your pan is on a fairly high heat and cook for 5 minutes. Keep a good eye on it and while at it pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. After 5 minutes, transfer your pan into the oven to cook it off for another 7-10 minutes. Each oven is different, so the best indicator of perfectly cooked fish is this: If you grab a fork and the fish is moist and flakes away easily and lightly, then it’s done!


If you are you using a whole fish rather than just a filet you need to sear the skin on both sides before placing it in the oven when testing it for doneness the best spot to check is at the thickest point of the back bone nearer the head. Enjoy!