Photo: Matt Lien Photography
My dad took us fishing
every single summer when I was a little girl. I didn’t realize it when I was younger, but as I got older, I recognized just how patient he was and how much time he gave to the four of us kids. He didn’t even get to fish himself for at least the first 2 hours. He alternated between setting up the lines, re-knotting the hooks, replacing the bobber, getting the worms out, worming the lines for my younger sister, taking a teeny catch off the line, rebaiting, relining, and pulling the hook out from some stuck seaweed.
My dad was the one to teach me how to fillet a fish and to this day, I can visualize his step-by-step process. This recipe brings me right back to that feeling of happiness and connection with each other and is by far my favorite breakfast dish. We fished in both the winter and the summer and froze what we caught in the freezer to pull out for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Fish fries were a yearly occurrence with my cousins and aunts and uncles and the memory is so strong, I can almost taste the fish from years past. The comforting feeling of laughing and playing with my cousins in the backyard as my grandma set up the food, and the Minnesota air felt so warm.
There are so many reasons why I am utterly intrigued and infatuated with this recipe. I love the way the blackberries pop and drip and drizzle when baked, and I love the hint of fresh lavender and the way the leaves feel like sweet edible velvet in my mouth. The trout falls apart with the gentlest fork into the meat and is paired with a buttered, honey-scrambled egg. The olive oil soaks into it all and makes for a most moist meal to begin the day. A fish feast.
- 2 filleted fresh whole trout
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- Salt block
- 1 cup seasonally foraged mushrooms such as chanterelles or oysters
- 1⁄2 cup fresh bouquet lavender
- 6 to 8 eggs
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar with honey (Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar with Honey Blend “with the mother”), plus more for drizzling
- 1 cup whole blackberries
- Black pepper
- 1⁄2 cup strawberries
- 1 cup live micro greens or dandelion greens
Prepare the trout first on a flat tray lined with parchment paper. Once the fish are filleted and ready, lay them open and drizzle with olive oil. Brush the oil on or simply glaze and drip. Then, set up the stove. Then stack two of your stovetop grates on top of each other double high, and place the salt block on top. Turn on low to slightly medium heat to begin warming the stone. Sprinkle a few drops of water on the block. If they sizzle vigorously and disappear immediately, the block is ready.
Brush off any dirt and chop the stems off the mushrooms. Lay them in a straight line on top of the salt block, leaving space on the left-hand side of the block. Drizzle with barely any olive oil! One small streak up the center of your fungi’d line will do. This creates a beautiful absorption of the salt from the block and keeps the mushrooms slightly moist during the process.
Pull the leaves from the stem of the lavender and chop them in small, tiny pieces. Set aside. The mushrooms should be sizzling now, and they will need to be turned just like the “There’s three in the bed and the little one said, roll over” story. Flip the first mushroom to the left with a fork and then so on and so on, shifting each one down. This way, each side will be simmered and sizzled.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Melt the butter and the apple cider vinegar with honey into a large flat pan over medium heat. I promise, the taste of this will change the way you make scrambled eggs forever! Crack open the eggs and swiftly fork them in low, small circles. Cook the eggs until they are just close to being done and you see slight dripping wetness around the edges; then turn the heat off (they will finish cooking in the oven). Take half of the eggs and lay them gently into the “bottom” half of one fish, cover- ing the meat. Repeat on the other fish. Next layer half of the mushrooms fresh off the hot salt block on top of the eggs. Layer, tuck, and sing sweet melodies as you squish them into their soft egg-ed bed. Do the same for the other fish. Plop fresh blackberries and chopped lavender onto the eggs. Dust with salt and pepper.
Take the top of each fish and pull down and over to fold on top of the eggs. Slide two strings, about 8 to 10 inches long, under each of the fish and tie in a simple bow. One should be toward the head and one toward the tail, sealing the fish. Add fresh chopped lavender, any extra berries or strawberries to be baked. Drizzle olive oil on top of the closed-up fillets and lay a sheet of parchment paper over the two fillets. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until fish flakes apart easily with a fork. Take off the parchment paper to cook for an extra 2 minutes, which should brown the tops of the fillets ever so nicely.
Serve with a bursting side of live micro greens or dandelion leaves topped with fresh strawberries and blackberries. Spritz with apple cider vinegar with honey as a light dressing.
Reprinted from TALES FROM A FORAGER’S KITCHEN. Copyright © 2018 by Johnna Holmgren. Photographs copyright © 2018 by Matt Lien Photography. Published by Rodale Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.