Learning from a master (to overcome my fear of fish)

Photo: Cindy Hudson

By Cindy Hudson

The flames shot up into the air in a dramatic fashion as amaretto was tossed into the hot skillet at a recent Heath4U cooking demonstration I attended at Michigan State University. That’s when I thought, “I want to be able to cook like that.”

I have never particularly enjoyed cooking. I think of myself more as a food assembler: take this box of ingredients, add burger and water, simmer, and eat. But watching MSU’s Corporate Chef Kurt Kwiatkowski demonstrate how to select and cook a rainbow trout gave me hope. He made it look so easy!

I WANT to like to cook — after all, we spend a good portion of our day acquiring food in one form or another. And as Michigan Sea Grant’s communications manager, I also feel it’s my duty to learn how to cook fish. So off to cooking class I went.

Chef Kurt has been on campus for more than 10 years. He loves to cook and enjoys creating and learning about new dishes — and he especially enjoys cooking fish.

First Chef Kurt described what to look for when buying fresh fish. Look for clear, bright eyes and a clean smell — not strong or fishy (who knew?). Also, you might want to know the source of your food — where did the fish come from? Our rainbow trout came from Harrietta Hills in Traverse City.

Photo: Cindy Hudson
Chef Kurt Kwiatkowski describes what to look for when buying fresh fish at the store or farmers market. Photo: Cindy Hudson

Chef Kurt then demonstrated how to fillet the rainbow trout, described his spice mix, and dipped each fillet before tossing it in a skillet until lightly brown on both sides. After removing the fish, he created the sauté — using the amaretto with great flourish.

The trout fillets are dipped into a special seasoning that includes Old Bay Seasoning. Photo: Cindy Hudson

Best of all, we were able to enjoy a portion of the trout almondine dish he prepared. Scrumptious! Watching Chef Kurt made me realize how easy fish preparation could be. It’s really not scary at all. I’m definitely going to give this is a try — if only for the flaming amaretto!

The fillets are then cooked until they are lightly brown on each side. Photo: Cindy Hudson
The trout almondine portion was excellent. Yum! Photo: Cindy Hudson

Download Chef Kwiatkowski’s recipe (PDF) and try it for yourself!

Do you have a favorite easy fish recipe that Cindy should try? Let us know in the comments! And just a reminder, we do have an entire cookbook dedicated to whitefish-based recipes.




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