Sunday, August 10, 2008

Friday night dinner: Trout with cucumber relish and German potato sald

I went into this wanting salmon, but the salmon at Weaver Street Market was expensive and cut into inconvenient serving sizes. Next to the salmon, they had pretty pink filets of North Carolina rainbow trout. I had never had trout before, let alone cooked with it, but I was feeling adventurous, so I picked up about half a pound.

While David grilled the trout, I prepared a cucumber relish to top the fish and an oil-and-vinegar potato salad that is pretty much my new favorite food. I have fallen in love with the potato salad at my beloved Neal's Deli in Carrboro, so I decided to try to make it on my own. Mine lacks the flair of carraway seeds that they used, but it tastes just as good.

FWIW, this was a delicious meal that we accompanied with a sweet white wine called Flue Fire from Iron Gate Winery in Mebane, N.C. It features scuppernong grapes, my favorite!

I don't have a recipe for the cucumber relish but it went something like this:

Chop a medium cucumber by quartering it lengthwise (leave about an inch uncut on the end so it doesn't all fall apart) and then slicing crosswise. Add to a small bowl. Chop onion finely and add to bowl. Sprinkle rice wine vinegar generously until all cukes have had a good soaking and there's about a half inch of vinegar at the bottom of the bowl. Add about a tablespoon of sugar and give it a stir. Chop some mint and tomato and add to the bowl. Season with salt and pepper, stir, and let the mixture sit for 20-30 minutes while the vinegar and sugar do their magic on the cukes.

To make the potato salad, wash potatoes and slice them into quarter-inch slices. I like using the tiny potatoes they sell at the farmer's market. They just taste so... potato-y. Add potatoes to boiling salted water and cook until you can pierce them easily with a fork (test often -- overcooking is the biggest sin, as the potatoes will crumble when you mix the salad and you'll have mush instead of firm deliciousness, which is what you want). Drain the potatoes and place in a bowl. This next step is unorthodox, but it doesn't bother me: put the bowl of hot potatoes in the freezer. This is not a warm potato salad and if you want to eat it NOW (like I always do) freezing is the quickest way to get it an acceptable potato-salad-temperature. Leave it in there 5-10 minutes or however long you have; it's okay if they're still a little warm. Now cut the onion by chopping the top part off (not the root part) and slicing through the middle of the onion. Pull off the peel, and then cut crosswise, cutting off thin strips, or half-moons, of onion. It doesn't matter if you use yellow, red, or white onion. Any of 'em will taste delish. Add the onion to the bowl, and then give the mixture a good drizzle of oil. It doesn't take much for the absorbent taters to get tasty. Then sprinkle with vinegar (I use white wine vinegar), and season liberally with black pepper and kosher salt. Mix it all together gently, and there you have it. The best potato salad in the world.

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