Virginia Willis Blog

Celebrate Summer with Sustainable Seafood

grilled trout recipe on www.virginiawillis.com

Celebrate Summer

The Fourth of July means fireworks, fun, flags, and of course food. It’s time to celebrate summer! Nearly 80% of Americans will be grilling this weekend, making it one of the biggest seafood buying weeks of the year. A lot of folks will be grilling burgers and brats, there will be flocks of barbecued chicken, and plenty of smoked pork shoulders and beef briskets, too.  We’re doing a little bit of both this weekend. Slow smoked brisket on the Big Green Egg one night — and fresh fish and shellfish the next. It’s the best of both worlds!

According to the USDA, we should to be eating seafood twice a week. Seafood and shellfish are high in protein, low in fat, and the omega-3 fatty acids present in fish are good for your heart. As you are making your seafood purchases, make sure to consult the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch guidelines to ensure you are purchasing sustainable seafood. So what does “sustainable seafood” mean? Sustainable seafood is defined as fish or shellfish that is fished or farmed in ways that have minimal impact on ocean health and ensures the availability of seafood for future generations. As a result of technology, we are now consuming fish at a higher rate than ever before. The global fishing community’s advances and lack of any serious regulation are enabling humans to fish deeper, farther, and for longer periods of time. The global fishing fleet is operating at two and a half times the sustainable level—there are simply too many boats chasing an increasingly dwindling number of fish. The bottom line is that we are simply catching and eating fish faster than most species can reproduce.

grilled trout recipe on www.virginiawillis.com

As a chef, I am wildly passionate about sustainable seafood. I write about it as often as I can in print, online, and through my blog. I teach sustainable seafood in cooking classes all across the country, and I only buy, cook, and eat sustainable seafood. I do this because I am on the Blue Ribbon Task Force for the Monterey Bay Aquarium and a member of Chefs Collaborative. “I walk what I talk.” According to many scientists and scientific organizations like Seafood Watch, the Marine Stewardship Council, and the Blue Ocean Institute, we are seriously jeopardizing the health and welfare of the oceans.

grilled trout recipe on www.virginiawillis.com

So, I am sharing a recipe for farm-raised trout. According to the New England Aquarium, rainbow trout is very closely related to salmon, with the main difference being they are most commonly raised in freshwater on land based farms. These fish are well suited to farming, with fast growth and good environmental tolerances. Farm-raised rainbow trout is consistently high-quality, which makes buying decisions very easy. The flesh may be white, pink or orange and will turn paler when cooked. Buy U.S. farm-raised rainbow trout when possible. U.S. farm-raised rainbow trout are most commonly raised in raceways, which are essentially artificial streams. U.S. farmed rainbow trout is considered an ocean-friendly seafood choice because it is farmed in a manner that does not harm the environment.

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Trout is inexpensive and an extremely user-friendly fish to grill. Not only does its durable, leathery skin help keep the fish from falling apart, but it also insulates the flesh from the direct heat of the grill, cooking into crispy deliciousness.

Be safe and have a happy 4th of July!

Bon Appétit Y’all!
Virginia Willis

grilled trout recipe on www.virginiawillis.com

Grilled Trout with Olive Oil
Serves 4

This is the time to break out your best extra-virgin olive oil. The smoky, herb-infused fish just needs a little kiss of liquid gold.

4 (6- to 8-ounce) whole trout, butterflied
Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 lemons, very thinly sliced
8 sprigs of thyme, more for serving
8 sprigs of basil, more for serving
4 dill sprigs, more for serving
Best-quality extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Prepare a charcoal fire using about 6 pounds of charcoal and burn until the coals are completely covered with a thin coating of light gray ash, 20 to 30 minutes. Spread the coals evenly over the grill bottom, position the grill rack above the coals, and heat until medium-hot (when you can hold your hand 5 inches above the grill surface for no longer than 3 or 4 seconds). Or for a gas grill, turn on all burners to High, close the lid, and heat until very hot, 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the trout on a clean work surface and season inside and out with salt and pepper. Equally divide the lemon slices and herbs among the trout cavities.

Place the stuffed trout on the grill, heads facing in one direction. Grill, covered, until cooked on one side, about 5 minutes.

Uncover the grill, and flip the trout over (simply roll them over with a metal spatula). Cover, and continue cooking until the trout is done on the second side, an additional 3 to 5 minutes.

To serve, remove the trout to a warm platter and drizzle with olive oil. Garnish with the fresh herbs and serve immediately.

Grilled trout with olive oil

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Order Lighten Up, Y’all and I’ll send you a signed bookplate!

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If you are interested in hosting me for a cooking class or a book signing, let me know! Send an email to info@virginiawillis.com and we’ll be back in touch as soon as possible.

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photography by Virginia Willis

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