This is an easy, flavorful salad that can easily be turned into a main dish with the addition of more spinach.
The trout can be brined and smoked in the morning and refrigerated until just before serving.
You'll have leftover dressing, which can be refrigerated in an airtight container for a few weeks.
Make sure you have a good ventilation system, because preparing the trout on the stovetop creates enough smoke to worry a basement-apartment smoke alarm.
- For the trout
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 cups cold water
- 18 ounces boneless, skin-on trout fillets (2 to 3 fillets, usually)
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Green tea leaves from 2 single-serving tea bags
- For the vinaigrette and salad
- 1 cup apple cider
- 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 2 teaspoons coarse-grain or dijon-style mustard
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 14 ounces to 1 pound flat-leaf spinach, stemmed, washed and spun dry
- 1/2 small red onion, cut into thin half-moon slices
- 2 medium Granny Smith apples, cored and cut into very thin matchsticks (julienne), tossed with 1 teaspoon lemon juice to keep the flesh from turning brown
To brine and smoke the trout: Combine the kosher salt, honey and water in a nonreactive loaf pan. Add the trout fillets and submerge; let them soak for 1 hour, then pat dry with paper towels and rub with the olive oil on both sides (discard the brine).
Meanwhile, spray a vegetable steamer basket or wire rack with nonstick cooking oil spray (make sure it will fit inside a large Dutch oven); place the fillets, skin side down, on the basket or rack. Prepare a stovetop smoker by placing a round metal cake pan inside a large Dutch oven (preferably cast-iron). Heat over high heat for 3 or 4 minutes, then sprinkle the loose green tea in the bottom of the cake pan. Do not stand directly over it, as it will start to smoke right away. Place the trout-filled steamer basket or wire rack over the cake pan and cover tightly. Let it smoke for 10 to 15 minutes (still over high heat) or just until the top of the fish is opaque (check a few times, being careful not to release too much smoke). Remove the basket from the Dutch oven and let the fillets cool; move the Dutch oven outdoors, if possible, until its smoke subsides.
For the vinaigrette and salad: Cook the apple cider in a small saucepan over medium heat until it has reduced to a syrup (about 2 tablespoons). Transfer to a large measuring cup. Add the sherry vinegar and mustard, then slowly whisk in the canola oil to form an emulsion. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
When ready to serve, lightly toss the spinach with a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette in a large mixing bowl until evenly coated. Divide the dressed greens among individual plates or heap on a platter, family-style. Add the onion to the bowl and add a little vinaigrette just to coat, then scatter the onion over the spinach. Garnish with the apple julienne, then flake the smoked trout over the salad, discarding the skin. Serve immediately.
From Janis McLean, executive chef at the Morrison-Clark Inn.
Tested by Sarah Meyer Walsh.
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