Typically on Sundays I prefer a light fish dinner, especially since Saturday nights I may have been a bit more indulgent. Preparing for a new week, it’s also good to finish the old one not feeling completely sluggish.
When I think of Norwegian dinners, my mind admittedly more often than not, goes to fish. Salmon of course plays a big part in our cuisine, as does cod and halibut – but a fish that is not as often talked about is trout, which is a fish from the salmon family (salmonidae). Mountain trout is particularly tasty and popular among fishermen and outdoorsy people. Trout is originally from Europe and little Asia, and arrived to Norway most likely after the first Ice Age. Humans helped them along, past high waterfalls and upward river streams, where it gathered colonies in the high mountains. In Norwegian, trout is called ørret, and probably stems from the Norse word aurridi – “the one who rides back and forth on the “auren”, i.e. the bottom of the gravel, when spawning.
The trout has the characteristic black dots on the back, and its color can vary from almost white to almost brown or reddish brown. The color of the fish depends on the water quality and the food it eats. In addition to natural differences, there are also genetically differences – there is the ocean trout, the mountain trout, the creek trout and the lake trout, all of which are naturally available in Norway. The creek trout is pictured below and is also very tasty:
The consensus about this fish is that it is so tasty, it really needs no fancy preparation or a lot of ingredients, but rather let the fish shine. I recall this as one of the few meals I would make with my father (who rarely cooked, although he was always the one making us breakfast in the morning) – after he would catch the trout, he would just dredge the fish lightly in flour, salt and pepper and saute them lightly and we would eat them just like that, served with boiled potatoes of course and some pieces of flatbrød (flat bread). It was one of those moments when I truly felt like I was eating a piece of nature, and appreciated where I was from. The tastiest of all is the mountain trout, caught in the lakes while people are out hiking, hunting and enjoying nature. The trout is prepared right there, prepared over an open fire, and enjoyed in the fresh mountain air. What could be better than that?
The general season for trout is in from May until early September, when mushrooms and berries are also plentiful, so these ingredients are often combined. If you are lucky enough to find cloudberries, these can provide an interesting match, and is not just for dessert! Trout is widely available all over in Norway, mainly because it is so versatile and lives in all creeks, oceans and lakes.
Trout is delicious just eaten grilled with a sprig of thyme, seasoned with salt and pepper and a squirt of fresh lemon, perhaps served with a dollop of sour cream and boiled new potatoes. The fish is also perfect served with a pickled cucumber salad, maybe some sauteed shallots and roasted cauliflower. Since Since Sunday dinners should be somewhat “fancied up”, I got the idea from another magazine to make a beet root sauce and include dill with my potatoes. Scandinavian in style for sure, and definitely a keeper in my book for future dinners when entertaining for guests or just enjoying a meal on my own.
Below is a recipe adapted from Klikk.no which I came across when searching for Norwegian trout dinner ideas!
TROUT w/DILLED POTATOES and BEET ROOT SAUCE
1 lbs beets
1 lb new potatoes (skin on is fine)
1 lb mushrooms, sliced
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1 garlic clove
1 orange, peeled (reserve the peel)
1 tbsp prepared horseradish (from store bought jar)
1/2 bunch fresh dill, chopped
4 tbsp olive extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tbsp whole grain mustard
2 lbs trout filets, skin on
3 tbsp butter
Preheat oven to 400F. Wash the beets, dry them off, season with a bit of olive oil, and LOTS of salt, and place on a sheet tray. Place and bake in oven for an hour or until soft. Let them cool off enough to handle, then peel them.
Meanwhile, place the potatoes in a pot with salted water, and cook for about 20 minutes or until tender. Strain the water off and let them dry out in pan.
Lower temperature to 160F – place the mushrooms on a baking tray season with salt, pepper and a bit of oil and place a couple of sprigs of thyme on top. Place in oven for about 10-15 minutes or so until golden.
In a food processor, add the parmesan cheese and garlic and grind until a powder. Add the beets, the orange zest/peel (the orange only, not the white), half of the horseradish and half of the dill and pulse until a puree forms. Add some of the olive oil until you achieve a pesto like sauce. Season with salt and pepper.
Mix the rest of the horseradish with the sour cream, whole grain mustard and the remaining dill. Season with salt and pepper. Cut the potatoes into thick slices and mix them with the sour cream dressing.
Make sure the skin of the trout has been scaled, if not do so. Season the filets with salt and pepper. Heat the rest of the olive oil and butter in a saute pan over medium heat and saute the filets for about 7-8 minutes until the skin is crispy. Remove the pan from the heat – flip the filets and let them finish cooking in the residual heat.
Arrange mushrooms, potatoes, trout and beet root sauce on 4 plates and serve!
Photo Credit: Godfisk.no