Teriyaki Trout and Quick Japanese Pickles

When I’m nostalgic for Japan, there is one recipe I pull out.

Though, oddly, I didn’t find it in Japan nor use it when I was there.

Instead, this recipe for Teriyaki Trout was one I inherited from my family, who has been cooking it for years.

Teriyaki trout with quick pickles IV

Although only really a nod to a traditional teriyaki, it is my fallback recipe when I’m longing for the Land of the Rising Sun. There, I often made an authentic teriyaki salmon that I would serve with steamed rice and a selection of tsukemono (pickles).

But this tastes just as good and the ingredients are readily available, unlike the two types of soy and mirin that usually went into my marinade when I was overseas. (These can, of course, be found at Asian grocery stores, but this recipe is built on ingredients most people have readily available in their cupboards: soy, sugar and sherry.)

This is not the thick gloppy sauce you find on supermarket shelves. This is a thin marinade that infuses the fish with that salty-sweet teriyaki flavour.

A few cloves of smashed garlic perfume the marinade without overpowering the flavours. (And, bonus, they are easy to fish out when it’s time for the trout to go in the oven.)

In the beginning, my parents made this with salmon, as the original recipe calls for, but when the price of that got too dear, they started using steelhead trout. Now that’s what I grab as well.

Teriyaki trout with quick pickles II

My version is a photocopy of the original, with no notation of where it came from. Even the amount of fish called for is absent from the recipe.

But I’ve found the marinade is enough for about two pounds of fish. I prefer to do whole sides rather than individual fillets or steaks, though please use what you want.

Since it’s usually only me dining, I often make the full batch of marinade and divide it between two pieces of fish, throwing one into the freezer for dinner at a later date. I’ll pull it out in the morning and let it sit in the fridge. As it thaws, it continues to infuse the teriyaki flavour into the fish and by the time I get home from work, it’s ready to cook, which, some nights, is exactly the kind of meal I like to have around.

When I’m a little homesick for the rice paddies and stunted hills of the small town in Japan where I lived, I make this dish, serving it with rice and some steamed green vegetables. Sometimes, when I’m really feeling nostalgic, I also make quick pickles -thin slices of de-seeded cucumbers left to sit in a bath of rice vinegar, sugar and salt.

The tangy flavour is a nice balance to the rich fish.

Cucumbers

Sliced Cucumbers

Teriyaki trout with quick pickles

Teriyaki Trout

  • 2 pounds (1 kg) steelhead trout, side or steaks
  • 1 cup (250 mL) soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup (50 mL) sherry (drinking, not cooking)
  • 2 tablespoons (25 mL) sugar
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons (25 mL) grated ginger or ginger paste

Combine the soy, sherry, sugar, garlic and ginger in a bag or flat dish. Add the trout. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C). Place fish in a casserole dish (if using steaks, grease the dish slightly so they can be easily removed) and bake until fish is cooked and flakes easily, about 12 to 20 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish.

Quick Japanese Pickles

The amount of salt and sugar can be easily adjusted for taste. I use Maldon flaked sea salt, which has a milder flavour. Sea salt can be easily substituted, but start with just 1 tsp (5 mL) and add more only if needed. The rice vinegar should be unseasoned.

  • 1 English cucumber (or 3-4 small cucumbers)
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons (7 mL) flaked sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons (25 mL) water

Slice cucumbers in half and use a small spoon to scrape out seeds. Slice on a diagonal into ½-cm half-moons. Stir together vinegar, sugar, salt and water and mix until salt and sugar have dissolved. Add cucumber slices, tossing them with brine. Let rest in the fridge for at least an hour, tossing occasionally.

This originally ran in the Calgary Herald. For more recipes and food stories, head to the Calgary Herald’s Food page.

  9 comments for “Teriyaki Trout and Quick Japanese Pickles

  1. November 29, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    Oooh yum! Wish I was nostalgic for Japan.. maybe this will make it feel like I’ve actually been there? maybe?

    • patentandthepantry
      November 29, 2011 at 8:01 pm

      How about you make it and I’ll come over and speak all the Japanese I know while we drink sake and beer? That should make you feel like you’re there. ; )

  2. anni
    November 30, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    sounds delish! really should try this sometimes… also, i’d like to thank you for taking us european readers in to consideration as you give the recipes (at least occasionally) also in kilos and litres and so on. that’s really cool! i think your blog is great and the converted recipes make it easier for me even back here in finland to try your recipes.

    • patentandthepantry
      December 1, 2011 at 1:04 am

      You’re welcome. I’ll try to make sure I do some more of that in the future. Thanks for letting me know that it’s useful!

  3. December 1, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    I loved it and can’t wait to make it again for guests! I used previously frozen wild-salmon instead, since it was what was available at the store. At the end of the meal I was cutting up the cucumbers into little chunks and mixing it with the flaked salmon. YUM!

    • patentandthepantry
      December 1, 2011 at 11:16 pm

      My favourite thing to do is to have the rice and salmon in a bowl and then put on some of the pickles at the edge of it and have bites of it all together. Yum!

      • December 9, 2011 at 3:05 pm

        I’m awful with rice, so I’m trying it with quinoa (sp?). This is my second time making it. I’m using a less expensive and available white fish (I just can’t bring myself to eat farmed salmon, ever!). I’ll let you know how it goes! I have yet to make any of your desserts, but I just LOVE your meals! Thank you!

        • patentandthepantry
          December 10, 2011 at 11:32 am

          I’m sure this is fabulous with quinoa. I’m terrible with rice too (so glad I have a rice cooker!). Let me know how it worked with white fish; I’m totally curious. Hope it was fantastic!

  4. January 22, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Made this last night. Loved how easy it was for so much flavour.

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