A New York bagel is NOT indigenous cuisine.
I was having a ‘friendly chat’ with a New Yorker recently, discussing the differences in food culture between Gotham and the Big Easy. While I was happy to concede his point that NYC is indisputably the restaurant capital of the U.S., I wasn’t budging on the bagel thing.
We don’t have the overwhelming range of options available those in the Big Apple, as he was happy to point out to me in that sweet understated way that so many New Yorkers have, but the passion and depth of the NOLA food scene has been well-documented for good reason. What we do have that New York and most other places in America lack is an indigenous food culture. There are cuisines that are native to and emblematic of New Orleans and South Louisiana, expressive of place and indissolubly wedded to locale.
What NYC does appear to have is indigenous chutzpah, and I have to credit that in my debate partner as he attempted to make the case for the New York bagel as an indigenous food. Even some of his other Mason-Dixon-challenged friends were unwilling to join him on that narrow limb.
In Louisiana Speckled Trout is certainly part of that native cuisine. I grew up on it, catching it with my father, and it is in my mind the best-eating fish we have. But sometimes you decide to try something new. We’ve been experimenting lately with a Greek take on Specks, initially the result of having Kalamata Olives and Feta on hand. The results have surpassed our wildest expectations as we would not have guessed in advance that Speckled Trout would be ideally suited to this preparation. Also worth noting is that this dish is extremely simple to make, manageable by a first-time cook, and you can have it on the plate literally in less than 30 minutes. Rock star food made easy.
Grilled Greek Speckled Trout with Couscous:
2 Filets Speckled Trout
1/4 cup Kalamata Olives, rough chop
1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, rough chop
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 cup couscous
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
Wash and pat dry trout filets and leave out to move toward room temperature. Light grill. In a small pot, add tbsp olive oil on medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent, about five minutes. While onion cooks, brush filets with olive oil, add salt and pepper and then place appx. 1/3 of the olives and tomatoes on top. Add remaining olives and tomatoes to pot and saute for 1 minute. Add stock to pot and bring to a boil. Remove pot from heat, add couscous, and cover. Place filets on the grill on medium heat. Sprinkle with feta. Cook until flesh is white and flaky, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add feta to couscous and mix with a wooden spoon to distribute onion, tomato, and olives. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.