RecipesCooking Techniques

Epis-Rubbed Steelhead Trout

Epis-Rubbed Steelhead Trout

Steelhead trout, tender, flaky, and with a delicate taste, gets a flavor boost from epis — a classic Haitian pepper-garlic-herb marinade.


Homemade Epis
  • 1 1/2 cups roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves and stems
  • 1 cup roughly chopped white onion (about 1 small onion)
  • 1 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3/4 cup roughly chopped scallions
  • 2/3 cup roughly chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped shallot (1 to 2 shallots) 
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 medium-size fresh Scotch bonnet chile or habanero chile, stemmed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 (2-pound) skin-on Steelhead trout or sustainable salmon fillet, scaled and cut crosswise into 3 pieces (see Note)
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons homemade epis (above) or store-bought epis (such as Creole Me Up), divided
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch slices (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 12 garlic cloves, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 4 medium-size red bell peppers, cut into 1/4-inch strips
  • 1 small fresh habanero chile, finely chopped 
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil, plus more for grill basket
  • Fresh cilantro, fresh flat-leaf parsley, and edible flowers, for garnish


Make the homemade epis
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, and stir to combine. Working in batches, transfer to a food processor, and process until mixture resembles a chunky puree, 30 seconds to 1 minute per batch. Transfer epis to a container; cover and refrigerate until ready to use. You will have about 2 2/3 cups. Save any extra epis for another use.

Make the trout
  1. Using a sharp knife, score skin side of fish by cutting 3 to 4 slits crosswise on each fillet, stopping about 1 inch from edges and cutting about halfway through fillets. Pat fish dry using paper towels; sprinkle evenly on both sides with 2 teaspoons salt. Rub both sides of fillets evenly with 1/2 cup epis; place fish, skin side up, on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet. Chill, uncovered, at least 18 hours or up to 24 hours.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium until shimmering. Add tomato paste; cook, stirring constantly, until slightly darkened and caramelized, about 1 minute. Add onion, garlic, and remaining 2 teaspoons salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to soften, about 4 minutes. Add bell peppers and habanero; cook, stirring often, until tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons epis; cook, stirring constantly, until mixture no longer has a raw flavor, about 1 minute. Add vinegar; simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced, about 1 minute. Cover and keep warm over low, stirring occasionally.
  3. Preheat a grill to medium-high (400°F to 450°F). Pat fish dry with a paper towel to remove excess moisture, leaving as much epis on as possible. Rub 1 tablespoon avocado oil evenly in a thin layer on all sides of fillets; place in a single layer in a metal grilling basket coated with additional avocado oil. Grill fish, skin side down, in basket until skin is slightly crisp and moderately charred, 3 to 8 minutes. (Move basket around grill if oil flares up too much.) Flip basket; grill until fillet centers are light pink with a bit of translucence or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest portion of fillets registers 125°F, 1 to 4 minutes.
  4. Spoon about 2 cups stewed pepper mixture on a large platter; top with fillets, skin side up. Garnish with cilantro, parsley, and flowers. Serve immediately with remaining stewed peppers.

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