Since my childhood I remember this old, country style Romanian dish, barely simmering on the stove in our kitchen. The cooking method is similar to what defines the word "Confit" and the result is tender, melt in your mouth, exquisite and piquant flavored fish and a vegetable mixture that blends perfectly with the delicate flesh of the fish.
I found a very fresh and beautiful looking Rainbow Trout in a small grocery store, but I cooked this dish with Sea Bass, Striped Bass, Red Snapper, Salmon, Halibut, Pike, Mackerel or Sardines and also with a variety of different seasonal vegetables with the same succulent result. Try this dish with any fish of your choice and I guaranty, you will never open another can of Sardines or other fish.
4 to 6 portions
Fish and vegetables
• 1 whole Rainbow trout (about 3 1/2 pounds) or any fish of your choice, gutted, scaled, thoroughly rinsed under cold water, patted dry and cut in 4 to 6 equal steaks
• Kosher salt + freshly ground black pepper
• 1 large onion, cut in half and sliced
• 2 medium carrots, sliced into 1/4" coins
• 1 large meaty red bell pepper, quartered and cut in medium strips
• 2-3 celery ribs with the leaves, sliced or half of a celery root cut into thick matchsticks
Prepare the fish; lightly salt and liberally pepper each steak; place in the refrigerator until ready to use. In a mixing bowl combine all the vegetables, keep refrigerated.
In a medium saucepan combine all ingredients for the marinade. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer, cover and cook on low for about 10 minutes; then turn of the heat and let stand covered until cooled to room temperature; strain and discard all the spices.
When the marinade is cooled, spread half of the vegetables in the bottom of a large sauté pan or a wide Dutch oven; place the fish steaks on top of the veggies in one layer, cover with the remaining vegetables, pour the marinade over the fish and vegetables, cover and slowly, on the lowest flame it is possible bring to simmer and cook partially covered for 1 hour.
After the hour is up, take off the lid, carefully taste the marinade for seasonings, add whatever you think it needs and let it continue barely simmer, occasionally bathing with the poaching marinade, for about 2 ½ to 3 more hours. The fish is ready when the ribs and the spinal bones are very soft.
Serve at room temperature or chilled as an appetizer or transfer the fish and vegetables with the cooking liquid to jars with lids and keep in the refrigerator. Use in salads, fish cakes, sandwiches or just sprinkle with lemon, chopped scallions and dill, eat and Enjoy.