How to Cook Steelhead Wellington

A freshly caught fish steal the spotlight from beef in this delicious recipe

A steelhead trout wellington with trout wrapped in pastry dough.
This plate of steelhead Wellington is a keeper.Christopher Testani

We all know beef wellington or, even better, venison Wellington, that quasi-British showstopper in which a seasoned loin is encased in a flaky, crisp puff pastry. This variation, with rich steelhead in place of red meat, is its stream-driven cousin. It comes from the kitchen of Ryan Ziegler, executive chef at Ilani Resort’s Line & Lure restaurant in Ridgefield, Wash., and it sees a whole steelhead (or, Ziegler suggests, a spring Chinook salmon) nestled into a bed of garlicky greens, baked inside a pastry crust, and drizzled with a cayenne-laced hollandaise sauce. This dish is the star of Ziegler’s brunch menu, and it’s got more than enough dazzle to cap off a post–fishing trip dinner feast.

Ingredients | Serves 4

  • 1 1⁄2 to 2 lb. whole steelhead or salmon, boned and (optional) skin removed
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1⁄2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 10 oz. baby spinach
  • 1⁄4 cup grated Gruyere (or jack) cheese
  • 1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 5-by-7-inch piece frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1⁄4 pound unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
  • 1⁄4 tsp. Tabasco or a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
A steelhead trout wrapped in pastry dough being brushed with butter.
Brush the pastry with an egg wash before you place the dish in the oven.Christopher Testani

Directions

  1. Make the filling: Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a nonstick pan. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 4 minutes, until they begin to brown. Add the garlic and continue to cook, stirring, for another minute. Add the spinach and 1⁄4 cup water, and cook, stirring, ­until the spinach has wilted and the water has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and immediately add the cheese and generous pinches of salt and pepper, using a rubber spatula to fold it into the spinach mixture as the cheese melts. Let the mixture cool before using.
  2. Prep the steelhead: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Dust a large cutting board with most of the flour and place the puff pastry sheet on the board. Dust the pastry with the rest of the flour. Use a rolling pin to roll out the pastry to roughly double its size. Gently spread the cooled filling down the center of the pastry, leaving about 3 inches clear on each long side. Season the inside of the fish with salt and pepper, and place it atop the filling. (The head and tail can hang over the ends.)
  3. Make an egg wash by combining the egg and a tablespoon of water in a small bowl, beating it with a fork. Use a pastry brush to smear the egg wash onto one clear side of the pastry. Fold both ends of the pastry over the fish, and press them together. Gently flip the fish. Use a sharp knife to carefully score the pastry on the top side, in a crosshatch pattern, trying to avoid cutting all the way through. Brush the scored pastry with the egg wash and transfer the fish to a parchment-­paper-­lined sheet pan. Place in the oven for 25–30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown.
  4. Meanwhile, make the hollandaise sauce: Set a medium pot of water over low heat, until barely simmering. Combine the egg yolks and lemon juice in a stainless-steel bowl that will fit over the pot, whisking vigorously until the mixture has thickened and its volume has almost doubled. Place the bowl over the pot and continue to whisk, taking care that the bowl doesn’t get hot enough that the eggs begin to scramble. Pour in the melted butter and continue whisking until the sauce is thick and creamy. Remove from the heat, and add the Tabasco sauce and a pinch of salt. Cover and keep warm until ready to use. (Whisk in a drop or two of warm water if the sauce thickens too much.)
  5. To serve, slice the fish into four pieces and ­drizzle a generous spoonful of the hollandaise sauce over the top. Pass the rest of the hollandaise at the table.

This story originally appeared in Field & Stream Vol. 125, No. 2.