With its many rivers, Georgia is full of trout, which can be caught and grilled right by the water. The trout are lovely served plain, with just the lemon slices and pile of herbs in their cavity, but are even nicer when their smokiness is paired with cilantro walnut sauce. This recipe is adapted from The Georgian Feast by Darra Goldstein (University of California Press 1999).
Makes 1 entree serving (scale down slightly if it's part of a larger spread)
1 trout, cleaned and slit down the belly
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon minced scallion
4 to 5 thin slices lemon
1 large sprig fresh tarragon
Olive, sunflower or canola oil
Georgian Cilantro Walnut Sauce (recipe below)
Heat a charcoal or gas grill to medium heat. Lightly salt and pepper the insides of the trout and place the scallion, lemon slices and tarragon in the cavity. Rub the skin of the trout liberally with oil to keep it from sticking to the grill, then cook the fish over a hot fire for about 5 minutes per side, or until the skin is browned and the flesh begins to flake. Serve with Cilantro Walnut Sauce.
Kindzis Satsebela (Georgian Cilantro Walnut Sauce)
This rich sauce, adapted from The Georgian Feast by Darra Goldstein (University of California Press, 1999), is similar to a pesto, but with sweet notes from the dried apricots, richness from Georgians' beloved walnuts and a bright punch from an assortment of herbs. According to Goldstein, this sauce is great with grilled meat or chicken, vegetables and even potato salad (and makes an especially nice complement to the grilled trout).
Makes 2 cups
2 ounces apricot fruit leather*
1/4 cup boiling water
1/2 cup shelled walnuts
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 1/2 cups finely chopped cilantro
1 1/2 cups finely chopped mixed herbs (parsley, dill, basil and tarragon)
1/2 cup finely chopped scallions
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Pinch black pepper
1 cup walnut oil
Dice the apricot leather into small bits, place in a dish and pour the boiling water over it. Let sit until softened, then stir until a puree is formed.
Place the walnuts and garlic in a food processor and pulse until finely ground (do not overmix). Add the apricot puree, and the herbs, scallions, lemon juice, salt, pepper and cayenne and pulse to combine. With the motor running, add the walnut oil in a stream until it forms a thick sauce.
*These dried fruit-based snacks are widely available; try to find a natural version without added sweeteners.