I wasn’t thinking of trout when I went to the market early Friday morning in Lautrec–I’ve got out of the habit of cooking it.
Rather, dorade (sea bream) perhaps or mackerel. When I approached the stall, which is usually packed with a good selection of fish,
it was covered in a white sea of ice but virtually no fish–except a small shoal of lonely-looking trout and an organic salmon–an unusual sight.
I’d noticed as I turned into the village that the road to Graulhet (fifteen minutes northwest of Lautrec) was blocked by two police vehicles and three determined looking gendarmes. I quickly decided my usual trick of not going fully round the roundabout but taking a sharp left into the village–strictly illegal but handy–was not a good idea!
Puzzled and dismayed by the absence of seafood I asked the unusually subdued fishmonger what was happening.
Qu’est ce que se passe, Monsieur?
Il y avait un accident avec le camion, il est en retard. [The fish wagon's been delayed by an accident.]
Road blocked–gendarmes present–diversion signs–no fish–mystery solved–trout for lunch!
La Depeche du Midi (regional daily newspaper) carried the story the next day, with a graphic photo of the scene.
The young man in the car survived and is recovering in hospital. According to the report it took the rescue team two hours to free him. The lorry driver escaped with minor injuries.
It’s a safe bet that trout and salmon, obviously sourced elsewhere, remained the only fish on sale in Lautrec that morning!
This is what I did with the trout.
2 trout–gutted and cleaned
a handful of fresh thyme sprigs
salt and pepper
Wash the trout and pat dry.
With a sharp knife, carefully make two shallow diagonal slits in the fish’s flesh each side.
Brush the fish top to tail with olive oil–(this helps to prevent them sticking to the griddle pad).
Rub salt and pepper into the slits.
Stuff the thyme into the cavities and season with salt and pepper.
Heat a griddle pad to hot–or use a sauté pan large enough to hold the fish.
Oil the surface.
Lay the fish on the pad and cook each side for about five minutes–testing for doneness by lifting the cavity and checking near the backbone. The cooking time depends on the size of the fish. (If pink/red, needs a little more time.)
Serve with green beans or a simple green salad.