Kurt Gutenbrunner’s Recipe for Pan-Fried Trout With Leeks, Almonds and Capers
Layers of cool sour cream, sautéed leeks and crisp-fried trout make a simple, elegant meal in this recipe from chef Kurt Gutenbrunner of Manhattan’s Wallsé
By Kitty Greenwald in the Wall Street Journal
The Chef: Kurt Gutenbrunner
What he is known for: Bringing equal parts indulgence and Viennese refinement to New York City. Creating restaurant spaces that deliver fine art and fine food.
WHETHER AT Wallsé, with its impressive collection of contemporary paintings, or Cafe Sabarsky, with Austrian-modernist furnishings by the likes of Josef Hoffmann and Adolf Loos, the prevailing aesthetic at Kurt Gutenbrunner’s Manhattan restaurants is one of elegant restraint—and the food is no exception. “My dishes are pretty architectural,” the chef said. “I don’t like them to be too crazy. As long as the components are carefully placed, you are good.”
In this recipe, Mr. Gutenbrunner’s final Slow Food Fast contribution, a foundation of sour cream and leeks supports a pan-seared trout fillet. A scattering of warm capers and chopped almonds provides textural as well as visual contrast.
“Trout is an underrated fish,” the chef said. “To get the skin extra crisp, start on high heat. Then turn it down so you don’t overcook the flesh.” To bring out the best in the leeks, he simmers the white parts in wine and sautés the light-green parts in butter.
There’s certainly nothing crazy about this 20-minute meal—just enough attention to detail to make a simple plate pleasing.
Pan-Fried Trout With Leeks, Almonds and Capers
Total Time: 20 minutes Serves: 4
- 1 cup sour cream or crème fraîche
- 10 sprigs chives, thinly sliced
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 1 large leek, trimmed, outer layer discarded, white and light-green parts separated and cut into ¼-inch rounds
- ¾ cups white wine
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 5 tablespoons butter
- 4 (4-ounce) skin-on brook trout fillets [consider substitutes, too]
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped almonds
- 3 tablespoons capers, rinsed and chopped
- 2 tablespoons parsley leaves, finely chopped
1. In a small bowl, combine sour cream, chives and lemon juice. Place in refrigerator.
2. Place white parts of leeks in a bowl of cold water. Place light-green parts of leeks in a second bowl of water. Shake both bowls until grit is dislodged from leeks. Strain leeks and set aside. Clean each bowl and refill with clean water. Place leeks back in respective bowls and shake again to remove remaining grit.
3. Drain white leeks. Bring wine, bay leaf and a pinch each of salt and pepper to a simmer in a small pot over high heat. Add white leeks and reduce heat to medium. Simmer until tender, about 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, drain light-green leeks. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, sauté light-green leeks with 1 tablespoon butter and a pinch of salt until just softened, about 2 minutes. Remove white leeks from cooking liquid and add to sauté pan with light-green leeks. Cook leeks together until flavors meld, 2 minutes more. Transfer leeks to a bowl and set aside.
5. Season trout fillets with salt and pepper. Wipe sauté pan clean and place back over high heat. Add 1½ tablespoons butter and melt until just foaming. Place 2 fillets, skin-side down, into pan. Cook until skin crisps, 2 minutes. Flip, and add ½ tablespoon butter, half the chopped almonds and half the capers. Reduce heat to medium and sauté fish until just cooked through and flesh flakes, about 2 minutes more. Transfer fish, skin-side up, to a plate along with almonds and capers. Wipe pan clean and repeat with remaining butter, fish, almonds and capers.
6. To serve, spread seasoned, chilled sour cream across four plates. Spoon leeks over top and nestle trout fillets, skin-side up, into leeks. Spoon capers and almonds over fish and garnish with chopped parsley.