Cooking from Modern Spice: Pan-Seared Trout with Mint-Cilantro Chutney

I’m very enthusiastic about Monica Bhide’s new cookbook, Modern Spice. Want your own copy? Comment to this post and tell me why you would like the book, and I’ll pick the best response and send it to ya.

As part of a blogger virtual dinner party using recipes from the book, I recently cooked the Pan-Seared Trout with Mint-Cilantro Chutney.

First, I gathered my ingredients. Mint from my garden (it’s gorgeous!), cilantro, a serrano pepper, lemon juice, salt, red onion. Put it all in a blender and buzz it until it’s an aromatic puree. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

Then I seasoned some trout with salt and pepper and seared it in a hot pan until cooked on both sides, which only took a few minutes. I served the trout topped with the chutney. Alongside, we enjoyed some basmati rice which I cooked with a dried chile pepper, some star anise and cinnamon to give it a nice aroma.

This was about the world’s fastest dinner, and everybody loved the vibrant, herbal sauce atop the simply sauteed fish. I also liked this recipe because it gave me a chance to use some of the mint from my fledgling herb garden. The chutney doesn’t keep all that long, but it’s so easy to make that you can put it together in just a few minutes and serve it fresh for dinner.

Recipes are below the cut.

Pan-Seared Trout with Mint-Cilantro Chutney

If you are reading this recipe and thinking, “Really, can it be that simple?”—yes, it is, and it is simply delicious. Don’t take my word for it, though. Get a pan out and start searing!

Serve the trout with a drizzle of the Mint-Cilantro Chutney.

Serves 4

Prep/Cook time: 15 minutes

4 skin-on trout fillets, about 6 ounces each, halved lengthwise

Table salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1⁄4 cup Mint-Cilantro Chutney

1. Season the trout fillets with salt and pepper.

2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the trout, skin side down. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Flip over and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, until the trout is cooked through.

3. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels, skin side down.

4. Place each fillet on a serving plate and drizzle each with up to a tablespoon of chutney. Serve immediately.

Mint-Cilantro Chutney

This is the most popular chutney in India, hands down. It can be found in many Indian-American homes, in restaurants, and now in jars on grocery store shelves. Its charm lies in how simple it is to prepare. My father always adds a little yogurt to his chutney to make it creamy and then pairs it with lamb kebabs. My mom-in-law adds a hearty dose of roasted peanuts and serves it with savory snacks; Mom adds pomegranate seeds—you get the idea—to each his own.

This versatile chutney has so many uses. Thin it a little and use it as a salad dressing for a crisp green salad; use it in the consistency provided here as a spread on a baguette topped with fresh cucumber slices; or simply drizzle it on some freshly grilled fish for a fresh flavor.

One word of advice here: Green chutneys have a short shelf life. Make them in small batches and make them often—they only take a few minutes but the rewards are well worth the effort (which really isn’t much).

Makes 1 cup

Prep time: 5 minutes

1 cup packed cilantro (leaves and stems)

1 cup packed mint (leaves only, please)

1 green serrano chile (optional; if you don’t like too much heat, remove the seeds)

1⁄4 small red onion, peeled and sliced

1 tablespoon dried pomegranate seeds (optional)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1⁄2 teaspoon table salt

Up to 2 tablespoons water

1. Blend the cilantro, mint, chile, onion, pomegranate seeds (if using), lemon juice, and salt in a blender to a smooth paste. To aid in the blending process, you can add up to 2 tablespoons of water, if needed. Taste and add more salt if needed.

2. Transfer to a covered container and chill for about 30 minutes.

3. Serve cool. This chutney will keep, refrigerated, for 4 days.


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