Sunday, August 2, 2009

Open Letter to a Star Prairie Trout

Dear Splashy:

Do you mind if I call you Splashy? It’s a little familiar, I know. But I would like to think of you as someone, and I never knew your name—assuming trout have names.

You don’t know anything about me. Well, you don’t know anything at all—not in the state you’re in. But I know a few things about you. I know that a mere five days ago you were swimming in fresh, cold spring water with thousands of other trout. I know that you were sleek and lovely, well-fed and healthy, and almost certainly happy.

Such is life for a fish. I understand; I have kept your kind as pets for more than ten years. Give you the proper water chemistry and temperature, the proper food, the proper companions, and the proper underwater landscape, and you thrive. That’s what Star Prairie Trout Farm did for you in the time it took you to grow to marketable size.

I can’t say I didn’t feel a little ambivalent bringing you home all filleted and labeled “Smoked 7/30.” Oh, Splashy, I would just as gladly have watched you swim around. To have admired your torpedo body, your untouchable quickness, your translucent and shimmering color—ah! A fish is one of the most beautiful and efficient creatures on earth. In other circumstances, our relationship could have been much different. A little sad, that.

The real tragedy, though, Splashy, is that you will never know how delicious you are. You will never understand how fantastic you taste baked into a tart with a flaky crust and served with some braised greens, roasted potatoes, a salad, and a nice glass of fume blanc. Your firm, smoky richness is why I can just get over it and eat you. You’re absolutely scrumptious, and you’re one of the many reasons I will never become a vegetarian. It’s good to be on top of the food chain.

So, my small friend, perhaps we will meet again in another life. But I hope not. If we do, I hope your memory is short and you don’t hold a grudge.

Smoked Trout Tart


1 ¼ cups flour
½ cup butter or shortening
½ t salt
3-5 T ice water

Mix flour and salt, cut in fat, and sprinkle with water. Stir a few times until it clumps together. Form into a ball and chill for as long as you can—at least an hour but better overnight.

Roll out the pastry and line a tart pan with a removable rim. If you don’t have that, you can use a pie pan. Make sure to patch up any holes in the crust! Chill again for ½ hour.

Now, the tart:

2 smoked fillets of trout, i.e. one fish – Star Prairie is perfect.
4 eggs
1 cup milk or cream
¼ t freshly ground black pepper
A dash of freshly ground nutmeg
Salt to taste

Take the skin off the trout and tear or chop the meat into ½-inch chunks. Scatter across the bottom of the pastry-lined tart pan. Whisk together the eggs, milk, and seasonings. Pour them over the trout. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the center of the tart is just firm. The tart should still be a little quivery. Remove from the oven and let stand 5-10 minutes. Serve to acclaim.


  1. I looooooooove their smoked trout. I don't even feel a twinge of remorse.

  2. I love their smoked trout too! This looks like a great way to use it (and another excuse to buy more).


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