Go Fish!: Pastrmka, or Macedonian Grilled Trout with Vinegar Sauce

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Hi everyone!

How was your weekend? Mine was busy busy busy.  My dear friend is spreading her wings and moving to Washington today, so this weekend was, rightly so, all about her. Saturday I helped her repaint her apartment white, a potentially mundane task made fun with good company and plenty of Frankie Valli (Seriously, at one point we were dancing to “December 1963” with roller brushes in our hands), so rather than end Saturday covered in flour, parsley or lemon juice, I was (and still am a bit) covered in paint.  Sunday I hosted a farewell brunch which lasted through dinner, which gave me a chance to remake some of my favorites:  shakshuka, coffee-date bread, Portuguese sweet rolls and Ginger Ale.  All dishes were a hit, and can be made in advance, so if you haven’t tried them yet, consider them for the next time you host brunch.

While all of the above meant that I didn’t get my weekend chores and food prep done, it was definitely worth it because when it comes to what is important in life, friends will always trump laundry and having a packed lunch the next day.  Or catching up on blog posts.

So there you have the reason for my slacking. With the Fourth of July looming at the end of this week, I can’ t promise this week won’t be the same, but I’ll try to stay on track.

For now, while I DO have the time, back to the grill for Macedonia.

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Macedonian cuisine is a huge grab bag of flavors and ingredients thanks to its location:  Balkan and Mediterranean, Turkish, Greek Italian and even Austrian cuisines influence what is eaten here.    From salads (“mezes”) to dessert, a lot of what I found recipe-wise screamed Turkey (yet again): beans, dairy, soups, stews, salads and seafood.

As much as I love everything tangentially related to a kebab, I figured I’d mix it up and try Pastrmka, essentially pan-fried trout with a vinegar sauce. The ingredients and prep were simple enough, but I wasn’t sure about 1) the trout or 2) all that vinegar. This recipe had a lot of vinegar.

Unlike the What-have-I-gotten-myself-into-situation with the Mohinga, it was quite easy to find cleaned trout ready to go. The original recipe says to pan fry it, but since I’ve been in a grillin’ mood, I just tossed it on the flame and cooked the vinegar reduction on the side.

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Recipe from Macedonia-Timeless

Serves 2

About 1 pound whole trouts (approximately two whole fish)

1 medium red onion, finely diced

3 cloves garlic

½ cup red wine vinegar

1 lemon, juiced

Handful parsley

Olive oil for the pan (about 1 tsp) and a bit more for brushing the fish

Salt and pepper

Directions

1.  Fry the chopped onion in 2 tablespoons oil, add the garlic, then add the vinegar and lemon juice and boil it for 1/2 an hour. Sprinkle a bit of chopped parsley. 

2.  In the meantime, cut open, clean the trout, drain and brush with oil. Preheat the grill, and grill until cooked, about 3 minutes on each side. This really doesn’t take long.   Pour the sauce on top to the trout.

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Thoughts?

Underwhelming. I’d never really had trout before (or at least when I could remember) and it sort of had more of a fishy taste than I’m used to with my normal tilapia or cod fillets.  Also, all those bones? I’m sort of too lazy for that.  As for the sauce…it tasted a lot like vinegar and not like a lovely balsamic reduction. Just…vinegar.  No amount of lemon or parsley could make this dish into a win for me.

You win some, you lose some. Cest la vie.


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