Dried juniper berries (available at area Whole Foods Markets and at Penzeys Spices in Falls Church and Rockville) often are used to temper the flavor of wild game and are quite strong when paired with the mild trout.
There is some evidence that a substance in juniper berries may pose a risk to pregnant women and those with compromised kidneys; check with your doctor.
Serve with fennel mashed potatoes.
- 1 tablespoon juniper berries (see headnote)
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for brushing
- 1 whole trout, cleaned and gutted (about 1/3 pound total)
- 2 stalks fennel, with fronds attached
Prepare the grill for direct heat. If using a gas grill, preheat to medium (350 degrees). If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal or wood briquettes; when the briquettes are ready, distribute them evenly under the cooking area. For a medium-hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for about 6 or 7 seconds. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames. Lightly coat the grill rack with oil and place it on the grill.
Combine the juniper berries, fennel seeds and peppercorns to taste in a coffee grinder or spice grinder; pulse until the mixture is coarsely ground. Transfer one-third of the mixture to a small bowl, then add the salt and the oil, stirring to form a slightly runny paste; reserve the remaining spice mixture for another use.
Use a sharp knife to open the trout like a book; lay it flat on a cutting board, skin side up. Brush generously with olive oil and flip over. Brush the paste on the inside of the trout, then cut a couple of the fennel stalks, with fronds, so that they fit inside the fish. Fold over one half of the fish to close. Place it on the hot grill, open side away from you. Close the grill lid and cook for about 8 minutes, until the flesh is opaque. Carefully slide a large spatula or fish turner underneath the fish to transfer it to a plate.
Discard the fennel stalks inside the fish; serve immediately.
From Silver Spring food writer April Fulton.
Tested by Toni L. Sandys.
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